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Science Careers Blog

November 12, 2012

Growing Numbers of Grad Students in China Threaten Quality and Employability, Chinese Officials Fear

A glut of graduate degrees is a major issue in the U.S. scientific labor market, according to many observers.  Now, rapid growth in the number of graduate students in China has Chinese education officials concerned about employment opportunities and academic quality, reports Yojama Sharma at University World News

Graduate enrollments in China have more than doubled in the last 10 years, from 220,00 to 517,000, the article states.  To accommodate the increase, individual faculty members are reportedly taking on more graduate students, and job opportunities for degree holders have not kept pace.

Data from 30 Chinese universities analyzed by the Research Center for Chinese Science Evaluation at Wuhan university show that about a sixth of professors supervise more than ten graduate students and that a tenth of the professors supervise 20 or more grad students.   Supervising so many students undermines professors' ability to maintain the academic quality of graduate programs,  says Qui Junping, research center's head, in the article.  Qin believes that a ratio of 3 to 6 students per professor would allow the faculty to maintain high standards.

What prospects do these graduate students have when they finish their educations? Not good ones, according to Xiong Bingqi of the 21st Century Education Institute in Beijjing: "There aren't many research jobs out there in the market," he says.

Fueling the rise in grad student enrollment is the belief, widespread in China, that advanced  degrees greatly enhance young people's career prospects.  Not so, the article says: Holders of newly minted graduate degrees suffer higher unemployment rates than new holders of bachelors degrees.  You can find the article here.

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