Similar to Singapore, China has different tiers of universities. The top tier in China is Tier 1 (一本). Within Tier 1, there is a further differentiation of “Project 985” and “Project 211” universities, the former being more selective. That is, Project 985 universities is a subset of Project 211 universities. “Project 985” universities consists of 39 top universities, including Peking University and Tsinghua University.
The above documentary exposes some fraudulent private universities that are out to con money from simple, rural folk. It also shows the hardship experienced by the young people in China, where salaries are low but living expenses can be quite high.
Summary from IMDB:
In ancient times in China, education was the only way out of poverty; in recent times it has been the best way. China’s economic boom and talk of the merits of hard work have created an expectation that to study is to escape poverty. Many Chinese parents see getting a degree as a way of ensuring their children have better, less impoverished lives than their own. But in 1997, the Chinese government privatized universities and education became a commodity. It’s a money-making business where there’s a profit to be made – The University Entrance Exams Day – the day students receive their results – often determines the future of one’s whole life. If you get good results, you get into the state-subsidized universities. If you don’t, there are other universities you can get into but they are more costly, often substandard, and run as lucrative businesses. Some unscrupulous colleges employ marketing techniques to target poor, rural families who are often less streetwise to their tactics. More often than not, these families can’t afford the tuition fees and some end up selling livestock and even their homes to cover the cost of their child’s education. But many colleges can’t live up to their promises and each year, more than two million graduates in China do not find work. For students and families who incurred debt while studying, education is no longer a way out of poverty but a cause of it along with unemployment and despair.