China’s Growing Number Of College Graduates

Published on Author greenwoodp14

As we discussed in class Monday, the number of Chinese college students and subsequent number of college graduates has greatly increased in recent years. The number of new undergraduate students more than tripled between 2000 and 2012 going from 2,206,000 students to 6,888,000 students. Even more impressive is the fact that the number of Chinese yearly college graduates has increased more than 6 times during the same time period. The number has risen from 950,000 students graduating college in 2000 to 6,247,000 students graduating in 2012.

The growth of new undergraduate students as well as college graduates has far surpassed China’s overall population growth during this same period. According to the 2000 and 2010 Chinese census the population increased from 1,265,830,000 to 1,339,724,852. This 105% increase in population is far behind the 600% percent increase in college graduates.

chinese college students

I assume this 600% growth will not continue all that much longer. China was previously a rural society where children worked on the farm and college degrees were not needed. Now as the push to expand the number of college graduates in China is well underway, people understand the importance of education and there is a much higher proportion of the population that has sought degrees, thus making it impossible to continue posting such amazing growth proportionally.

Sources: China Statistical Yearbook 2013

5 Responses to China’s Growing Number Of College Graduates

  1. It is very interesting to see such a large shift in education. I wonder if the increase in enrollment is higher for people who live in cities or for those who live in rural villages.

  2. Good point, I do know those who do migrate from rural areas to the cities are more likely to have received a college degree than those who stay in the village.

  3. The larger question is what is the quality of this education? How many of these degrees are technical degrees? Four year degrees? Is it comparable to Western education? Does a liberal arts education exist in any widespread manner in China?

  4. I also think the fact that slightly more than 50% of those receiving a college degree in China are now females is a major accomplishment for China. Prior to Mao’s ascent to power and especially during The Qinq Dynasty, more than 40% of males were literate while only 10% of females were able to read.

  5. First, college enrollment rates are far higher among the local (hukou) residents of major cities. Rural areas are still underserved. Even when the college is a national one, you have to take the entrance exam in your local area (which may mean traveling to a provincial capital). So ambitious urban migrants face barriers.

    Second, the expansion was sufficiently rapid that there are indeed quality issues, teachers who have a poor grasp of the subject matter, courses that merely echo the text accompanied by widespread cheating. That’s one reason some Chinese students choose to come to the US: they want to learn and be around others with an interest in learning.

    Third, are there jobs commensurate with these numbers? Yes, there are lots of paper engineers, but are there that many jobs? I have every reason to believe that there is underemployment (or unemployment) among recent grads, who are disappointed that their degrees aren’t valued as they expected. This is a concern for the government, too, as students with connections are a potential source of opposition.