College Graduate Woes

The New Chinese News Agency (Xinhua) reported today on the situation facing college graduates in this country, and this was the most alarming statistic:  the current job market has 1.66 million jobs for college graduates, but 4.13 million students will graduate this spring.  That’s mind-boggling.

Less than 20 years ago, only about 5% of high school graduates in China were able to attend college, and entrance was gained through a rigorous and highly competitive entrance examination system.  In the late 90’s, China decided that they needed a more highly educated work force, which mean that they had to make college accessible to a larger number of high school graduates.  Whereupon, they launched the great "kua zhao" (expand enrollment) campaign.  In early August (can’t remember if it was 1999 or 2000 actually) the government ordered all the colleges and universities to increase double their intake of freshmen for the coming term.  That meant schools only had a few weeks to get ready for, say 2000 freshmen instead of 1000.  They scrambled to build dorms, classrooms, and hire teachers.  In some cases, "university cities" were built on the edges of cities—entire new campuses that sprang up out of nowhere to serve as branch campuses for the main schools in town. 

Now that student population ‘bubble’ is graduating, and lo and behold there aren’t enough jobs for them.  The intensity of the competition to get in diminished, but it was only moved to four years later.