Return of Education Investment in China—A Case Comparison Between Rural and Urban Students

  • Jie Lin Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, University of Macau
Keywords: return of education investment, business English, rural students, education decision


Business English was officially approved to be an undergraduate major in China in 2007, which set off throughout China a boom of establishing Business English as undergraduate majors in educational institutions. Students swarm towards schools with Business English programs assuming their high job prospects after graduation. This study is a follow-up study comparing the return of education investment for two groups of graduates in Business English, one group graduating in 2013 as the first graduates of Business English in Guangzhou, the other group graduating in 2017. Online surveys were conducted to investigate whether urban and rural students differ in terms of starting salary, job prospects and further study decisions after they’ve completed the same popular program, and how their family backgrounds might affect their education decisions. Four years ago, a pilot survey confirmed such a gap between rural and urban students in their jobs and future; but the follow-up study four years later find that a change is taking place: rural and urban graduates are hardly distinguishable in their salaries and career decisions. The comparison of the serial studies suggests a higher rate of return for rural graduates in Business English program. Although this is only a case study for one particular program, it provides a window to rethink how opportunities and challenges surface for rural students amongst China’s education expansion and the national urbanization movement.

Author Biography

Jie Lin, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, University of Macau
Department of English


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