Chinese graduates have become "more rational" in choosing between postgraduate study and immediate employment, according to the Ministry of Education (MOE).
In an apparent endorsement of employment over further education an MOE spokesman said that this year Chinese students had "clearer mind" regarding their career development route.
"The entrants for this year's postgraduate exam have not risen as sharply as in previous years. The number of examinees is equal to that of last year," said the spokesman.
China's annual national postgraduate qualification exam started on Saturday. Nearly 1.3 million applied to sit the two-day exam. This is just 7,000 more than last year and 714,000 of them are students from colleges and universities. Last year's figure was up 9 percent over 2005.
The spokesman said it had previously been taken for granted that postgraduate students had brighter employment prospects. "This hasn't proved to be the case and a large number of undergraduates still choose postgraduate study to delay entering into fierce competition for jobs," he said.
Universities had strengthened personal development counseling and employment guidance in recent years, he added, which asked students to "soberly consider" their development path and encouraged them to learn more skills in the workplace before choosing further education.
"One can understand what he or she really needs to learn after practical work experience," the spokesman said.
The advice is easier said than followed. The number of college graduates this year will be close to 5 million and there simply aren't enough jobs to go round. This has led to more graduates furthering their studies to try and gain a competitive advantage as the central government continues to champion innovation.
(Xinhua News Agency January 22, 2007)