What are the prospects for China’s postgraduate enrollment expansion amid the depreciation of academic qualifications? What are the prospects for China’s postgraduate enrollment expansion amid the depreciation of academic qualifications?

What are the prospects for China’s postgraduate enrollment expansion amid the depreciation of academic qualifications?

What are the prospects for China’s postgraduate enrollment expansion amid the depreciation of academic qualifications?

Recently, a press conference held by the Ministry of Education of China revealed that it will further expand the scale of postgraduate training. What are the prospects for this expansion at a time when the number of postgraduate students is increasing rapidly and youth unemployment remains high?

Liu Jieyi responded to economic and employment issues at the first press conference of China's "Two Sessions"
The number of postgraduate students in China has doubled in seven years, making postgraduate entrance exams increasingly difficult
Employment prospects are bleak, China’s Generation Z becomes the most pessimistic generation
Postgraduate qualifications are devalued and “relationships” are more important

At a press conference held by China’s Ministry of Education on March 1, Guo Peng, director of the Ministry’s Development Planning Department, said that “we will steadily expand the scale of postgraduate talent training” and “anchor the goal of building a powerful country in education by 2035.”

In recent years, China’s graduate enrollment has been rapidly expanding. According to data, in 2023, the number of graduate education enrollment in China will reach 1.302 million, approximately double that of seven years ago. The number of postgraduate students in China in 2023 will be 3.883 million; in 2016, this number was 2.071 million.

Mr. Chen has been studying as a graduate student in science and engineering at a university in Shandong since 2020. However, he gave up his degree the year before and chose to immigrate to the United States. He said that more and more people in China are pursuing higher education: "It means that 'people cannot lose at the starting line.' It seems that people only stand at the starting line after going to graduate school. There is great employment pressure, and (everyone) wants to ( (Through) getting a high degree to find a good job. In fact, most people study for such a high degree because they want to find a good job."

Mr. Chen said that the reason why he gave up continuing to study for graduate school was because he was considering immigrating at that time: "Because I wanted to go abroad at that time, and I also knew that domestic academic qualifications were not recognized abroad. If I continued to study in China, I would I felt that staying in China for one year was equivalent to wasting two years. So I thought I would come here while I was young and didn’t want (a degree).”

Mr. Qian, who has studied as a graduate student at a university in Shanghai in recent years, told reporters about the mentality of his classmates studying for graduate school: "Many people did not find a job that they were satisfied with when they graduated from undergraduate, so they thought about studying for graduate school to make a living. With the added value of your degree, you can find a more stable job. But as the rising tide lifts all boats, the value of graduate students has also been lowered."

Mr. Qin, who has served as a graduate tutor at a scientific research institution in Beijing for three years, said that in fact, whether a graduate student can find a good job depends more on “social connections”: “Can your family recommend you a better job?” In an enterprise, you can earn 40,000 to 50,000 yuan a month, and the discrimination of a graduate degree is a stepping stone. Only by using this stepping stone and other people recommending you can you get a better position."

Regarding the social atmosphere in China, he said bluntly: "If you are an ordinary person with no social connections, after getting a graduate degree, his advantage over undergraduates is actually not very big. According to the current trend, the future will be very It is possible that the value of education will further depreciate, and the degree itself will become insignificant, and then it will depend more on your social connections.”

What impact will the expansion of postgraduate enrollment have on China's economy?

Guo Peng said at a press conference of the Ministry of Education of China, "In recent years, the scale and proportion of graduate students, especially doctoral students, have continued to increase, providing a steady stream of high-level talent support for high-quality economic development."

In this regard, Wu Zuolai, a current affairs commentator in the United States, believes that China’s current expansion of graduate student enrollment will have temporary benefits for the economy: “It will prevent many college teachers from losing their jobs. These families have invested in their children’s education and closed colleges and universities, which will alleviate the problem. Employment pressure. For example, if 1 million people study for graduate school, there will be 1 million fewer people in the job market, and it will be easier for others to find jobs."

Last year, the youth unemployment rate announced by the Chinese authorities hit new highs again and again, once reaching 21.3%. As a result, the National Bureau of Statistics of China suspended the release of youth unemployment data in August last year. After excluding school students from the statistics, China's National Bureau of Statistics said in January this year that the youth unemployment rate in December last year was 14.9%.

Wu Zuolai pointed out that China’s current postgraduate enrollment expansion policy is sacrificing the interests of some people. He said: "Let these people have dreams and use their dreams to illuminate their current lives, so that they can avoid this crisis when they are currently facing a very difficult employment situation."

He believes that if China is unable to get out of the youth employment crisis for a long time, the market competitiveness of these people who are studying for graduate school and Ph.D. due to the expansion of postgraduate enrollment will have problems: "If China gets out of the crisis in three or five years, they will Everyone is happy to get a job. But now, it will take 10 or 20 years. China's highly qualified people with master's and doctoral education are basically far less competitive in China than those who are carpenters, bricklayers, etc. Technical construction workers.”

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