China Expects a Sharp Drop in Number Seeking College Degree

Chinese education officials expect a nationwide drop in the number of students sitting for the college entrance exams this year.  From Xinhua:

China expects fewer students to participate in the upcoming three-day annual college entrance exam this year, according to Sunday version of China Daily.

[…]Minister of Education Zhou Ji had predicted that the overall number of applicants would exceed 10 million — last year’s total was 10.5 million — but figures from local governments suggest the number of students taking part may be far fewer, the newspaper said.

[…]“Since the financial crisis last year, the grim employment situation has broken the ‘employment myth’ for those with a college degree. Some students changed their minds about getting a good job through higher education. They simply quit (from taking the exam),” an anonymous recruitment officer with the Beijing Institute of Technology was quoted as saying.

Mark at Mark’s China Blog is unsurprised by this phenomenon, and points out that a similar disenchantment with higher education is underway in the U.S.:

This kind of news isn’t surprising. I hear all the time from young people in Xi’an about graduates from last year’s university class who still can’t find work. There are about to be several more million fresh graduates entering the job market in a few weeks also looking for jobs. Times are looking bleak for educated Chinese young people trying to find work doing what they studied at university.

This phenomenon of people questioning the value of high-level education is not limited to China. America is currently undergoing a similar debate.

An article from last week’s New York Times’ Magazine – “The Case for Working With Your Hands” – does a great job talking about the more academic life young Americans have been molded for and the more labor intensive jobs that they are told to avoid.