University rankings influence graduates' salaries

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Tsinghua University, Shanghai Jiaotong University and Peking University ranked in the top three on the salary index for higher education graduates 2021, with an average monthly salary of 10,992 yuan ($1,699.66), 10,602 yuan and 10,690 yuan, respectively, according to, a Chinese salary research institute, on Friday.

The index, which includes 100 universities, is based on data from college graduates who had worked for their employers for one year. It was a calculation by statistical model that includes the factors of wage level, employment rate, talent growth and salary growth.

In terms of average salary, that of Peking University graduates was higher than that of Shanghai Jiaotong University, but Peking University was surpassed by Shanghai Jiaotong University on the salary index after comprehensive statistics.

All of the top 10 universities on the index were on the list of Project 211 and seven were affiliated with Project 985.

In the 1990s, the Chinese government launched Project 211 and Project 985, which added special qualifications for certain top universities. Project 211 listed 100 first-tier universities, while Project 985 contained 39 of the best from Project 211.

The Ministry of Education announced the end of both projects in 2016, but graduates from universities bearing the 211 or 985 tags are still highly sought after by employers.

Central University of Finance and Economics rose from eighth to fifth from last year. Beihang University, Tongji University, Sun Yat-sen University and Fudan University were new to the top 10 on the index this year. Among them, Sun Yat-sen University saw the sharpest rise, from 17th last year to eighth this year, with 125 yuan growth in average salary.

In terms of average salary alone, 24 universities saw their graduates' monthly salary exceed 10,000 yuan. Beijing Jiaotong University, the Central Academy of Fine Art and Southeast University were among them, though their rankings were lower than 30th on the index. Graduates from 31 universities got an average salary between 9,000 yuan and 10,000 yuan, those from 24 universities got salary between 8,000 yuan and 9,000 yuan, and those from the remaining 21 universities earned a salary from 7,000 yuan to 8,000 yuan.

It is noteworthy that graduates from universities based in economically developed cities got more opportunities to acquirement higher salary. Among the 24 universities whose graduates got an average monthly salary higher than 10,000 yuan, only Zhejiang University, Nanjing University and Southeast University are not in first-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, but they sit in Hangzhou or Nanjing, which are considered emerging first-tier cities.

Although Wuhan University and Hunan University were among the Project 985 and Project 211, their rankings were relatively low, at 84th and 92th, respectively, with monthly average graduates' salary at 7,517 yuan and 8,096 yuan. Also known as Project 985 universities, Jilin University and Northeastern University in Northeast China were even not included in the top 100 index and were surpassed by many non-Project 985 or Project 211 universities.

Among the non-Project universities, the University of International Relations and Shanghai University of International Business and Economics ranked highest with monthly average graduate salary at 10,045 yuan and 10,066 yuan, respectively.

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