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Chinese begin to question value of master degrees
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Chinese graduates are questioning the value of continuing their education for a master's degree, a survey has found as the number of students applying for further study declines.

More than half, or 52.9 percent of the survey respondents thought it was not worth their while to spend two years on a master's degree, while the rest still thought positively of master degree studies.

The survey, jointly conducted by the Social Research Center of China Youth Daily and the Media Center of the sina.com.cn, covered7,730 respondents, including 4,865 who had obtained or were pursuing master's degrees.

The survey showed 35.6 percent of the 4,865 regretted starting their master's studies.

Ministry of Education figures show 1.28 million people applied for the national entrance exam for master's studies this year, up only 0.55 percent year-on-year.

But the number increased by 170,000 on average each year from 2001 to 2006, or a yearly 20-percent increase.

The survey also revealed that 48.7 percent of master's students questioned studied only for a diploma and 45.2 percent for a better job.

However, the competitive edge of a master's degree in finding a job seems to have diminished. "I spent half of my time in college for the entrance exam for a master's degree. When I finally got it from a leading university, finding a job was still a problem," said Zhao Chun.

"People began to question the value of master's degrees, which might not be a bad thing. At least, it shows critical thinking. Many people used to go blindly for master's degrees," one respondent was quoted as saying in the survey report.

The survey quoted reasons respondents had given for postgraduate study, including: "My girlfriend is still studying in college"; "I can't leave the abundant Internet resources and cheap accommodation on campus"; and "I was fooled by my teacher and parents."

The survey also showed that 54.7 percent admitted they had no clear career plans before their master's studies, and 17.9 percent thought their choices were made somewhat blindly.

(Xinhua News Agency October 9, 2007)

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