‘World-Leading’ Lee-Campbell Research Group Project on Social Origins of Students at Elite Universities in China, 1949-2002

Last month the Hong Kong Research Grants Council released the results of the 2020 Research Assessment Exercise assessing 16000 research outputs, 340 research impact case studies, and 190 research environment overview statements submitted by the eight Hong Kong University Grants Committee universities covering all research outputs in Hong Kong completed during the period from October 2013 to September 2019.

Only 26 of the 340 research impact case studies, including 4 of the 35 case studies submitted by HKUST, were considered to be 4 star, that is ‘world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour.’  We are pleased to announce that one of these four world leading projects was the collective research on Social Origins of Students at Elite Universities in China by the Lee-Campbell Research Group.

The UGC has just published on-line all the research impact case studies.

For the complete impact case study on Social Origins of Students at Elite Universities in China, please see


The impact was based on the book 无声的革命, published in 2013, and an article with a similar title published in 中国社会科学 in 2012, which examined the social origins of students at Peking University and Suzhou University 1949-2002:


For the overview statement on this and other impactful activities by the history faculty at HKUST, please see


For all of the RAE 2020 impact case studies, please see





Extended discussion of Silent Revolution (无声的革命) in a video by Professor Yu Liang (余亮)

On July 12, 2020. Professor Yu Liang posted a video with his extended discussion of our book Silent Revolution (无声的革命) in the context of commentary on the college entrance exam (gaokao 高考).

As of 1:30pm on July 15, 2020, his discussion had been viewed 240,000 times, and ‘liked’ 22,000 times. At that time, it had 4488 messages (弹幕) posted on the video.

Silent Revolution aka Liang Chen, Zhang Hao, Li Lan, Ruan Danqing, Cameron Campbell, Lee, James. 《无声的革命: 北京大学、苏州大学的学生社会来源 1949-2002》(Silent revolution: the social origins of Peking University and Soochow University undergraduates, 1949-2002).  Beijing Joint Publishing, 2013 is an output from our CUSD-PRC project .  We are proud that this book and the larger project of which it is part, eight/nine years after our original publication, continue to have considerable academic and social impact.

New Article on Changes in the Social and Geographic Origins of China’s Educated Elites (1865-2014) Published in 《社会学研究》

Lee-Campbell group members Chen Liang, Hao Dong, Yunzhu Ren and James Lee published an article 江山代有才人出——中国教育精英的来源与转变 (Social Transformation and Elite Education: Changes in the Social and Geographic Origins of China’s Educated Elites 1865-2014) in the May 2017 issue of 《社会学研究》 (the Chinese-language journal Sociological Studies). Using data from the China Government Employee Database-Qing (CGED-Q) and the China University Student Dataset – Republic of China and Peoples Republic of China (CUSD-ROC and CUSD-PRC) they contrast the profound changes in social and geographic origins of China’s educated elite in four distinct periods: 1865-1905, 1906-1952, 1953-2003, and 2004-2014. They conclude that these fundamental transformations reflect the ability of the Chinese system of educational testing to legitimate new elites in different eras with different recruitment criteria, rather than merely to reproduce the intergenerational transmission of existing elites, as is the case of elite education in many other parts of the world.

The English and Chinese language abstract as well as a PDF of the paper (in Chinese) are available for download here: