China's postgraduate entrance exam sees record number of participants
By Cao Chufeng
China's annual postgraduate entrance exam is wrapping up on Sunday. A total of 4.57 million people participated in it, 800,000 more than last year.
In fact, the number of candidates has been rising for some time. In December 2016, 2.01 million people took the exam – the first time it had passed the 2 million threshold. In 2019, that number passed the 3 million mark.
Zhang Xuefeng, an experienced postgraduate entrance trainer and an online influencer in the education sector, said one of the biggest reasons for the increase is the competitive job market.
"One reason for this is higher requirements in various industries. For example, in many big cities, junior and senior high school teachers are required to have a master's degree, but this was not the case five years ago. When I was in school, teachers only needed a diploma of undergraduate degree," Zhang told CGTN.
His opinion is in line with a survey published by China Education Online, which shows a more competitive job market is the biggest motivation for people applying for postgraduate studies. The other two major reasons are improving literacy and knowledge, and wanting to experience more school life.
On top of these regular reasons, the COVID-19 pandemic is also pushing people to apply for the country's postgraduate entrance exam.
"I graduated two years ago as an undergraduate. I originally planned to study abroad after that, but I couldn't because of the pandemic, and I'm not satisfied with just a bachelor's degree, so I decided to take the postgraduate entrance exam," said one examinee in Beijing this year.
As in previous years, most people this year still want to study in first-tier cities and the surrounding areas, but there's been a change in which schools they're applying for.
"For popular schools, there is a very interesting change this year. In previous years, most of the increase in the number of applicants was focused on first-class universities. This year many non-first-class universities have also seen a substantial increase of applicants," Zhang said.
According to the authors of the survey, this change shows applicants are becoming more rational in choosing schools. For many, a higher chance of being accepted into a course is more important than going to a higher-ranked university.
(Cover: People taking China's 2022 national entrance exams for postgraduate studies line up in front of Beijing Institute of Technology in Beijing, China, December 25, 2021. /CFP)