Despite the potential of tertiary education to generate higher incomes and close the poverty gap within and between countries, it is still a challenge for many countries to ensure equity and quality in their higher education admissions. Compared to the more privileged, students from marginalized backgrounds face inequitable inputs that restrict their academic and personal growth. This comparative analysis used a capabilities approach-based model to examine the personal, discriminatory, institutional, and geographical barriers many students face in the higher education admission processes in Turkey and China. As long as student stratification persists, equity in education cannot be attained; therefore, several gender equality, equity, diversity, and quality-based policy alternatives are presented that focused on grading systems, curriculum and instruction, and quota system changes. Further recommendations are also given for the development of courses and regional development programmes that can assist disadvantaged students convert functionings into capabilities from an early age.