Employment-oriented college policy draws concern

Updated: 2011-12-06 16:29


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BEIJING - A recent decision by China's education administration to phase out college majors with a bleak employment outlook has experts saying that it will lead to a "utilitarian tendency" in college education.

Efforts should be made to adapt the majors to the country's development and the universities' own development plans, rather than to the students' employment outlook, the Tuesday edition of the People's Daily newspaper quoted Li Zhenyu, the student admissions office director of Tianjin University, as saying.

The employment-oriented policy can still be used to regulate vocational schools, Li said.

The Ministry of Education announced last month that enrollment quotas for majors that see a post-graduation employment rate of less than 60 percent for two consecutive years will be reduced until the majors are phased out completely.

The policy was created in light of increased employment difficulties for recent college graduates.

If universities are told to take an employment-oriented approach, they will likely compromise their students' job-hunting activities, Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, told the People's Daily.

Since many graduates end up working in fields that are not directly related to their majors, employment rates cannot be used as an accurate indicator of a major's quality, Xiong said.

University programs should not be at the mercy of market demand and the government should give more support for "unpopular" majors, Xiong said.

According to a survey conducted by Nankai University of 5,201 students at 99 of the country's universities, enhancing personal capabilities and serving social development are the two main factors in choosing to pursue higher education, with employment outlook coming in third.