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China curbs rapid enlargement of doctoral programs
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The Ministry of Education has decided to curb rapid expansion of doctoral programs at universities as China sees more doctoral degree holders being churned out annually than the United States.

Yang Yuliang, who heads the office of the State Council Academic Degrees Committee, said China produced about 50,000 doctors in 2006, a similar figure with the United States, according to the Shanghai-based Evening News.

The national expenditure on research and development, however, was roughly one ninth of the U.S. federal R&D spending in the same year, according to statistics.

The number of people who got their doctoral degrees in 2007 is not available. But considering the base of 50,000 in the previous year and the average annual growth rate of PhD candidates admission of 26.7 percent from 1999 to 2003, at least more than 60,000 people obtained their highest academic degrees from Chinese universities, which made the country the biggest producer of PhDs in the world.

Unlike the U.S. where most doctoral degree holders go to higher learning and research institutions, China sees more than half of graduating doctors swarmed into the government.

Due to the fact that tuitions and living expenses of doctoral candidates are mostly covered by the tax money, Yang said, it is a waste to produce so many doctors for non-academic organizations.

Yang said the ministry is going to keep the doctoral program admission growth rate under two percent each year while setting aside more resources to professional graduate training, such as masters of business administration, law and education.

China sees soaring numbers of doctoral degree holders. In 1983 the country for the first time produced 19 doctors. Too rapid expansion of doctoral programs in recent years resulted in mass production with its quality being questioned. It's not rare to see one professor advises more than two dozens of doctoral candidates in research institutes or universities.

Another threat of the over-heated doctoral education, Yang said, is that universities, usually in prosperous areas, siphon too many talented young people away from their under-developed homes. They would usually find jobs in big cities after graduation.

(Xinhua News Agency May 1, 2008)

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