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The past three decades have seen tremendous improvements in access to all levels of schooling in China, most recently at the kindergarten and university levels, with a renewed policy focus also on secondary and vocational education. Yet ensuring equitable access to education across economic, geographic and social divides continues to be a major challenge.

This panel will examine how China’s broader inequalities in the wake of social, political, and economic transformations have contributed to inequality and exclusion within the education system, and how these educational disparities have been exacerbated by demographic decline, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the recent sluggish economy. How do regional differences, the hukou (household registration) system and the urban-rural divide combine to create multifaceted inequalities? What roles do gender, spatial location, and socio-economic group play in shaping exclusion? And what might a fairer education system in China look like?

We invite you to take part in a discussion of these issues and more, on Thursday 19 October at 4pm, with expert Professor Emily Hannum (University of Pennysylvania) joining Drs Ye Liu, Charlotte Goodburn, and Xiaxia Yang (King’s College London), chaired by Ji Shi, for a stimulating roundtable event on inequality and exclusion in contemporary Chinese education.

*This is a hybrid event - please select your preferred joining option when registering.


Emily Hannum is Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is also Associate Dean for Social Sciences. She is affiliated with the Population Studies Centre, the Centre for the Study of Contemporary China, the Graduate School of Education, and the Penn Development Research Initiative. Her research interests are poverty and child welfare, gender and ethnic stratification, and sociology of education. Current projects focus on childhood poverty in China, the implications of demographic decline for educational systems and educational inequality, and climate risk, pollution, and children’s welfare in China and in comparative perspective. She co-directs the Gansu Survey of Children and Families, a longitudinal study of childhood poverty and upward mobility in rural northwest China, and she is collaborating on a set of projects on climate, environment and childhood inequalities in China, India, and low- and middle-income countries. 

Charlotte Goodburn is Reader in Chinese Politics and Development, and Deputy Director of the Lau China Institute, King’s College London. She is also attached to the Department of International Development at King’s. Before starting at King’s, she was a post-doctoral researcher in the Centre of Development Studies at the University of Cambridge. Dr Goodburn’s research and teaching engages with the politics of internal migration; urbanisation; the comparative development of India and China; and the movement of policies and “models” into and out of China. She completed her PhD in the Department of Land Economy at Cambridge and has a BA Hons (in History) and an MPhil (in Contemporary Chinese Studies), also from the University of Cambridge.

Ye Liu is a Reader at the Department of International Development. Prior to King’s, she was a Senior Lecturer in International Education at Bath Spa University between 2013 and 2016, and was a lecturer of Contemporary Chinese Studies and Director of the BA programme in Chinese Studies at the University College Cork, Ireland from 2012 to 2013. The recipient of early-career awards (the 2014 Junior Sociologist Prize by the Research Committee on Women in Society of the ISA and the 2014 SRHE Newer Research Award), Ye holds a PhD in Comparative Sociology from the Institute of Education, University of London. Outside academia, Ye has written for the Conversation, Foreign Affairs and the MUSE. Her research has been featured in the Financial Times, the Guardian, BBC News, the Protocol, the ChinaFile, the Reuters News and the Times Higher Education. She has also appeared on the BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, the BBC Why Factor, the National Committee of the US-China Relations Podcast and the China Changing Festival at the Southbank Centre.

Xiaxia Yang joined the Lau China Institute as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Chinese Migration in 2021. Before coming to King’s, she received her PhD in geography from the University of Washington. Her dissertation looks at the exploitative age-selective process of internal migration in China in the reform era. Her current research examines various disadvantages faced by migrants in China induced by the selective migration process and other related topics.

Ji Shi, also known as Rocky, is a PhD student at the Lau China Institute with research interests in the inner periphery. Her research focuses on education inequality, rural development, internal migration, and gender issues in these areas. By examining individual experiences and the societal factors that shape them, Rocky aims to provide valuable insights into these crucial issues. She earned her LLB in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Renmin University of China, and her MSc in China and Globalisation from King’s College London.

At this event

Ji (Rocky) Shi

PhD student

Charlotte  Goodburn

Deputy Director, Lau China Institute

Xiaxia Yang

Research Associate in Chinese Migration

Ye Liu

Reader in International Development

Event details

King's Building
Strand Campus, Strand, London, WC2R 2LS