So that's certainly true in America, and perhaps even more so in China. I think platforms like Coursera/Udacity can start leveling the playing field again for two reasons: first, if the technology is good enough (from personal experience, I would say so) and remains free, the studying-resources gap between rich and poor shrinks; second, even if you can't squeeze your way into a top school, you can still get a top-notch education for free. At the end of the day, i'm grossly oversimplifying things (i.e. the weight of credentials in Chinese society probably still far outweight actual demonstrated skill-set; or consider for a moment whether a family that lives on rice and a few vegetables a day can realistically afford a computer+internet-connection for their kids...), but i still think there's a sizable impact in here somewhere.
Having rural hukou is a b*tch.
Only the absolute poorest Chinese won't be able to get internet access and a computer. The computer might cost ~1000 RMB (2 month's salary, for an extremely poor household). Maybe less, if they can put up with an old P4 getting tossed out by an internet cafe, which is now the color of a smoker's lungs. Internet will be ~50 to 100 RMB a month, and that's entertainment (and information) for the whole family. Getting access to online courses (which might rely on YouTube, which is blocked) might be tricky, as is the language barrier, but I'm sure China will have localised versions of the course. It's a major cost, but Chinese aren't starving, just poor. Once you have more than $2 a day, food isn't the only priority; healthcare and education is.
Migrant workers might be worse off than the poorest peasants, though, as they may not have a stable abode. You can't get your kid a computer if you're sharing a shanty-town room with 2 other families. Plus, getting a connection might not be possible. That's probably why migrant workers often leave their kids with grandma.
And yes, credentialism is an issue.
> That's probably why migrant workers often leave their kids with grandma.
Not really the main reason. Without Hukou, their kids can't even attend school. China is almost a caste-based society these days, where caste is determined by your Hukou.
Well, not really, there is a huge part of online courses translated/subtitled to Chinese. That's my wife's job actually.
Remember that in India universities are not judged by the quality of their research, but solely on the "success" of their alumni. Since govt. colleges are cheaper, even though they might not be good, they do attract smart students. One thing that the Indian govt. did do right was to have a highly meritocratic system of admission, although that has recently suffered many setbacks