Half of 2,000 Chinese billionaires have no further education degree, according to a new report published by the Hurun Research Institute.
The annual Hurun University of Life Rich List 2017, released on Tuesday, shows that half of 2,000 Chinese entrepreneurs with assets of at least 2 billion yuan ($300 million) have no degree.
Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of the institute, said that "these people might not succeed in accordance with current social standards; however, they made it and created great enterprises, which taught me that a hero may rise from nowhere."
The report listed the top 100 heroes, with Zong Qinghou, chairman of Wahaha Group, one of China's biggest beverage producers, ranking first.
According to Hurun, Zong, 72, from East China's Jiangsu Province, ranked No.41 in the Hurun Global Rich List 2016 and No.5 in the China Rich List 2016 with his wealth of $19 billion. Zong ranked No.1 in the China Rich List in 2012 with wealth of $12.6 billion.
The report said that Zong started work after graduating from middle school and established Wahaha beverage factory in 1988. Over the past 20 years, he built up his drinks empire and is a deputy of the National People's Congress.
Also on the list are Chinese tech entrepreneur Jia Yueting, chairman of LeEco, who was born in 1973 in North China's Shanxi Province and became an Internet worker after graduating from a vocational school, and SOHO China Chairman Pan Shiyi, a property tycoon, who was born in 1963 and graduated from a vocational school.
Compared with those who obtained a degree, the average wealth of the top 100 entrepreneurs without a prominent education background is 24.9 billion yuan, 9.6 billion yuan less than those who went on to further education.
The report said that the average age of the latter is six years older than the former with eight entrepreneurs over 70. However, only one of the top 100 "well-educated" entrepreneurs is over 70. "The heroic entrepreneurs are older and deeply affected by the Cultural Revolution (1966-76)," Hoogewerf said.
Most of those who did not have further education are in the manufacturing sector, with few in the financial or IT industries. Specifically, 24 percent work in real estate and 19 percent in manufacturing, while 24 percent of the top 100 entrepreneurs with academic degrees are in finance and investment and 15 percent work in IT.
Hoogewerf said the first post-Cultural Revolution generation of billionaires value integrity, hard work and pragmatism, while the younger generations focus more on innovation and talent.