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1.2 mln applicants crowd into exam rooms
By Wu Chong (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-23 21:48

Postgraduate study is red-hot across the nation, with long queues this year heading into postgraduate exams and equally long ques heading out onto the job market.

About 1.2 million applicants registered for the national entrance exam which concluded yesterday, according to the Ministry of Education.

The record-breaking number is 24 per cent more than last year's batch of test-takers. And the rapid growth rate has remained constant for five consecutive years.

Participants write down their answers during the 2005 national postgraduate entrance exam at Jiangsu Polytechnic University in Changzhou of East China's Jiangsu Province January 23, 2005. [newsphoto]

On another tack, more than 200,000 postgraduates are expected to finish up their studies this year. And next year may see as many as 360,000.

Most of them are competing with a large number of bachelor degree-holders in the country's crowded job market.

The ministry has explained that the rapid development of the economy in the science and technology arenas is increasing the demand for high-end professionals, which in turn stimulates the expansion of postgraduate enrollment.

Statistics show that more than half of postgraduate applicants are college graduates this year.

Students whose majors involve high technology said they find it far more necessary to become further educated to do well in the job market.

The numbers in school also ease the employment tension when jobs are scarce, said the ministry.

But as employment pressure rise, complaints and doubts are also rising about the policy of expanding enrollment for undergraduates and postgraduates.

Chen Wenshan, a master's degree-holder at Beijing Normal University, said she assumed a higher degree would help her get a satisfying job more easily two years ago when she sat the postgraduate entrance exam.

"But it turns out I have the same difficulties," said Chen, whose classmates are all still seeking jobs.

However, professor Guo Yingde at Beijing Normal University, criticized many postgraduates on choosing to swarm into a handful of hot industries and big cities with too much expectations about future jobs.

The employment rate of postgraduates in the past two years remains much higher than graduates, he said.

Surveys show undergraduates seem to have more job choices and postgraduates are more competitive in fields such as research and education.

"It is a personal problem if a postgrad cannot find a job," said Guo, citing an example that there is a great demand for teachers in some western areas but few students consider going there.

He said although both graduate and postgraduate enrollments are increasing, the proportion between the two has remained stable, which is rational.

Moreover, he pointed out, the country still needs to raise the proportion of undergraduates and postgraduates, which is at a comparatively lower level compared with developed countries.

"Those top-notch universities should divert their focus to postgraduate education and send more highly skilled people to meet the needs of society," Guo suggested.

He also called on educational authorities to adopt new policies, which "should allow more students in but only the qualified out," to improve the quality of postgrads.

Professor Wang Hongguang at Beijing Agricultural University agreed with Guo on his viewpoints and added the current education system should be changed from focusing on higher education to strengthening the whole nation's education system, including elementary education and continuing education.

"The key to solving the employment problem lies in educating people according to the demands of society," he said.

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