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it's high time we think about quality of postgraduates
Date:2008/1/26 9:13:14
it's high time we think about quality of postgraduates
Grad degree woes
(China Daily)
Updated: 2008-01-22 07:30
The number of applicants for the postgraduate entrance examination dropped by more than 80,000 from last year, the first downturn since 2001. At the same time more and more university graduates say they would prefer to pursue master's or doctoral degrees overseas.
The number of applicants for the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) hit a record 210,000 last year, and the number of students traveling to the United States to study for advanced degrees also witnessed a sharp rise last year.
It is obvious that advanced degrees from domestic universities are not as valuable as they used to be when it comes to finding work in China's competitive job market.
Some have taken the situation to mean that graduates are becoming more sober-minded and pragmatic. Maybe they feel that spending three years getting a master's degree could be considered a waste of time and money if the degree ultimately proved useless in getting them a job.
However, the fact that so many graduates still want to study abroad suggests that the perceptions are different for degrees from foreign universities.
In the past decade people with graduate degrees found it easier to find good work, which undoubtedly drove interest in high-level education. The total number of postgraduates enrolled jumped from 156,000 in 2001 to 400,000 last year.
Critics say the expansion in enrollment has come at the expense of educational quality. It is common at some schools for a professor to tutor a dozen master's degree students at the same time. Many students complain that they do not have any opportunities to have face-to-face discussions with their tutors.
A survey of more than 7,000 students conducted by China Youth Daily last year found that 52.9 percent of the surveyed did not think studying for a master's degree at a domestic university was worth the trouble, and 35.6 percent of the postgraduates surveyed said they regretted their choice to devote time and money to the pursuit of an advanced degree.
Maybe something has gone wrong with our overall graduate programs. Many companies now say they are more interested in work experience and raw ability rather than what kind of degrees job applicants possess.
It is high time that we start thinking more about quality rather than just the quantity of postgraduates.
(China Daily 01/22/2008 )

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