Life at Chinese Universities and life after…..

Life at Chinese Universities and life after…..

A record-breaking 8m students will graduate from Chinese universities in 2017. This figure is nearly ten times higher than it was in 1997 and is more than double the number of students who will graduate this year in the US.

A recent viral video captured the unbelievable moment hundreds of university students raced to get a space in a library so they could prepare for an exam. These students demonstrated that the road to success not only depends on how hard they work, but also how quickly they run, it seems. Some of the students got up as early as 5am in order to get a good position in the queue, according to People’s Daily .


Just two decades ago, higher education in China was a rare privilege enjoyed by a small, urban elite. But everything changed in 1999, when the government launched a program to massively expand university attendance. In that year alone university admissions increased by nearly 50% and this average annual growth rate persisted for the next 15 years, creating the largest influx of university educated workers into the labour market in history.

In the latest development around 20 Chinese universities have set up research centres focused on the teaching of “Xi Jinping Thought,” shortly after the Chinese president enshrined his name and doctrine in the Communist Party’s constitution.

Xi first introduced his theory—“Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”—on Oct. 18, when he opened the twice-a-decade 19th party congress with a three-hour speech. At the end of the weeklong session that also marked the start of his second term, Xi’s ideology, along with his name, were written into the party constitution as part of the party’s “guide to action.” Only one Chinese leader, modern China’s founding father Mao Zedong, has enjoyed the same treatment while still in power.


In 2017 there will be 1m more new graduates than there were in 2013. And yet, the graduate unemployment rate has remained relatively stable – according to MyCOS Research Institute, only 8% of students who graduated in 2015 were unemployed six months after graduating.

But if you delve a little deeper it’s clear that unemployment rates mask the more subtle issue of “underemployment”. While most graduates eventually find work, too many end up in part-time, low-paid jobs.

Six months after graduating, one in four Chinese university students have a salary that is below the average salary of a migrant worker.

For students who choose arts and humanities subjects in high school, the average starting salary after university is lower than that of their classmates who didn’t go to university. But for a different group of graduates, the contrast is striking. Engineering, economics and science majors in China all enjoy high starting salaries and the top employment rates. These graduates fill the highest-paid entry positions in the most attractive employment sectors of IT, operations, real estate and finance.


Chinese universities have a great track record of teaching students “hard skills”, but the test-focused education system has placed little emphasis on the development of anything else.

So while graduates from technical or quantitative majors find employment because they have the necessary “hard skills”, graduates from less technical majors are hampered by their lack of both types of skills.


China has published the names of 42 universities it will support to achieve “world-class” status.

Under the country’s “Double First Class” project – which has run since 2015 and operates on a five-year cycle – China is seeking to expand significantly the number of highly-ranked universities by 2050. Only two Chinese universities are in the top 100 of the Times Higher EducationWorld University Rankings – Peking University at 27th and and Tsinghua University in 30th – while seven out of the top 200 are based in mainland China.


China is not only the world’s second biggest economy, but has also been the world’s fastest growing country for the past 30 years. China also promotes a globalized economy, with the world’s top 500 companies all doing business in China, and many choosing to base their Asia-Pacific headquarters here.


China’s rise makes abundantly clear that people who can speak Chinese and who have first-hand experience of living in China have a considerable advantage when searching for employment. China is home to a huge employment market of multinational corporations, and employers are well aware that a real understanding of China, Chinese culture, and Chinese people is of tremendous advantage to those who want to become the world’s next generation of leaders.


In 1950, a year after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the country received its first group of 33 international students. As of 2017, China is the first choice for many international students in Asia, and ranks a world third overall. China’s emergence as an economic, scientific, and cultural powerhouse has prompted more and more international students to further their education at Chinese universities. China now hosts almost 10 percent of all international students – a number likely to rise.


The University of Leicester has, last month, launched its first international Institute – in China – offering dual degrees in STEM subjects opens this month. The Institute is the result of a partnership between Leicester and leading Chinese University: Dalian University of Technology. The Chinese Ministry of Education announced approval in March for the ‘Leicester International Institute, Dalian University of Technology’ to be established on the Panjin campus of Dalian University of Technology. Students will study for degrees, in Chemistry and Engineering – from the University of Leicester and Dalian University of Technology. President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Boyle, said:


“Our purpose is to advance the exchange of culture, science, engineering and technology between China and the United Kingdom, promoting the development of education

in both countries.”


Mike Hodgkiss

Mike Hodgkiss has 36 years teaching experience in the secondary sector, twenty years as a deputy head in an 11-18 comprehensive school in Essex. He was a governor of a primary school for several years. He has led and coordinated training for staff in many aspects of teaching, learning and leadership not just in this country but in Europe too. He has written for EuroSchoolNet on international and citizenship projects and for ASCL's leadership magazine. He is currently editor of @Teachtalks.

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