More than one-fifth of graduates from Peking University (PKU), one of the best Chinese universities, earn a salary of more than 10,000 yuan (about 1,333 U.S. dollars) per month, far outstripping the potential earning power of students from almost every other university in the country.
The statistics were based on a survey of 1,321 graduates carried out by the university's employment guidance center since last October. They reveal that graduating from PKU, the equivalent of Oxford or Cambridge, Harvard or Yale, almost guarantees a well-paid graduate-entry job - a contrast with students from local universities throughout China who struggle to find a job.
The PKU survey also showed that the income of 73 percent of the university's graduates is above 4,000 yuan (about 533 U.S. dollars) per month, and 65 percent of the graduates are satisfied with their jobs.
The existence of an educational elite of new graduates able to pull down starting salaries far in advance of their peers at most other universities is shown in a separate survey carried out by the employment guidance center of Fudan University in Shanghai, which reveals that the average salary for college graduates working in Beijing is 2,950 yuan (about 410 U.S. dollars), while the figure is 2,750 yuan (367 U.S. dollars) in Shanghai, 3,650 yuan (488 U.S. dollars) in Guangdong and 3000 yuan (400 U.S. dollars) in Tianjin.
Tong Hai, who joined HSBC bank in 2005 and is now working as an assistant manager for customer credit risk analysis, is one of the outstanding graduates from Peking University, which is nicknamed Beida.
"Beida gave me an excellent platform for improving both academic and professional skills. This is crucial for my job hunting and my future development," Tong said.
Tong, who entered the School of Mathematics at Beida as an undergraduate in 1997, described his four-year college life as healthy and well-organized. He took full advantage of all kinds of facilities in Beida and laid himself a solid knowledge foundation.
He then chose to continue his studies in the same institute as a post-graduate to boost his career prospects.
He said postgraduate study focused more on applying knowledge to real practice. Through the experience of many scientific research programs, Tong felt himself more and more capable of cooperating and communicating with others as a team member.
"I gradually learned to accept different thinking patterns and to analyse things from more than one perspective. This is among the best experiences I have gained here."
"Compared with those who graduated from pure science or engineering universities, the students of Beida have a more rounded and developed intellect, being active thinkers and good at coping with emergencies, " Tong said.
"When I was a student, I already planned to work in the banking field. I predicted several years ago that finance, being a new industry in China, would have a bright future. Now, I am realizing my dream." Tong said with a smile.
The survey by Beida's employment guidance center showed that for the graduates of 2007, the rate of employment is 97 percent. Among them, 66 percent were employed by central and local governments, research institutes at and above provincial level, famous multinational companies and other major organizations.
However, 10 percent chose to work in the impoverished areas in northwest China, the People's Liberation Army (PLA), or the rural areas around Beijing. Local universities do not fare so well.
However, it is a different story away from Beida. Universities in impoverished areas of China do not do as well in getting their graduates into good careers.
Dong Yunchuan, the principal of higher education school of Yunnan University in southwest China, pointed out that many universities in China are only churning out "onefold" graduates, who do not meet some of the needs of society. Moreover, students in less famous universities are not as confident as those in Beida or Beijing's other top-rank university, Tsinghua.
"A lot of graduates from local universities find it hard to find a job. That is closely related to their lack of ability --- ability in studying, researching, adapting to various situations, communicating, enduring pressure, and so on," Dong said.
He said that the sometimes limited capacity of local universities to teach to a good standard also hindered the development of their graduates. Universities in underdeveloped areas are at a continual disadvantage because they cannot get enough funding from the various local level governments to improve their teaching level.
Therefore, those who do well in the national entrance examination (held annually in the Chinese mainland for high-school graduates to qualify for universities at different levels) and are able to enter good universities like Beida and Tsinghua, are usually guaranteed better jobs than those who can only join local universities, Dong said.
Because of the limited resource of the country, it is understandable that famous universities get more favourable policies from the government, said Dong. However, he believed that such an imbalance should not be encouraged.
Local universities will enjoy a better future, if the government could give more attention and financial support, the heads of local universities update their educational concepts, and educational specialists give more constructive ideas, Dong said.
He said that local universities should also try to improve their education through focusing more on the subjects on which they have better teaching resources and try to diversify the education model for different students.
The Ministry of Education has taken some measures to cope with the imbalance in the education resources in different areas of the country. The measures include expanding the number of students major state universities accept from underdeveloped and poor areas, and encouraging more graduates from good universities to go back to their hometowns to teach in universities in poor areas.
(Xinhua News Agency, November 30, 2007)