Although the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) advocate, through SDG 4 and SDG 10, equitable quality education and the reduction of inequalities within and between countries, respectively, few studies have examined how inequalities in regional sustainability influence higher education. Therefore, this study aims to examine the relationship between regional sustainability and higher education in China using fixed-effects panel modelling. A systematic force framework showing how regional sustainability drives higher education was constructed from economic, social, and environmental perspectives, and the endogeneity in the process of how regional sustainability affects higher education was explored by introducing one-year lagged values as instrumental variables. Our results show that regional sustainability has a significant impact on higher educational attainment in China, with differing effects in the eastern, central, and western regions, respectively. In central China, economic sustainability plays a significant positive role in higher educational attainment; in the western region, economic and social sustainability have stronger positive effects, while environmental sustainability has significantly negative effects. In terms of policy implications, our findings can be used to support regional development policies to promote regional higher education.