Warning on college majors

Updated: 2013-06-26 02:41

By Zhao Xinying (China Daily)

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Warning on college majors

A job fair for college graduates is held at Shanghai International Exhibition Center on June 16. More than 450 companies offered about 10,000 positions at the fair. LAI XINLIN / FOR CHINA DAILY 

University majors such as animation, law, biology, mathematics, physical education and English have been listed as the "red-card" majors — fields in which supply exceeded demand for employment in 2012, according to a report.

Graduates with these majors were found to have low incomes and a high unemployment rate. These majors made the "red-card" list each year from 2011 to 2013, according to the 2013 Chinese College Graduates' Employment Annual Report released by MyCOS, an education consulting and research institute in Beijing.

"Many parents and students taking college entrance exams know little about college majors, and they might be making blind decisions in choosing 'well-known' majors from TV serials," said Wang Boqing, who worked on the report, at a press conference.

"Also, these majors are easily set up, so that almost all Chinese colleges have them and recruit a large number of students each year. However, most of the programs are weak in quality," he said.

Wu Zhongjiang, vice-president of Nanjing Institute of Technology, agreed with Wang. "Too many colleges offer these majors and recruit too many students, but these students usually cannot meet the high demands of the market after they graduate.

"Another problem is that market demand is changing all the time, but recruitment and student cultivation lags behind and cannot catch up with the change," said Wu, who also attended the conference.

"The release of the red-card majors is a warning to parents, students and colleges that students should stop blindly flocking to these majors and colleges should consider bettering their programs or changing their curricula altogether," he added.

Besides "red-card" majors, there are also "green-card" majors, ones for which market demand is increasing and the rate of employment and incomes are correspondingly higher. These include geological engineering, oceanographic engineering, petroleum engineering and mining engineering.

However, graduates are reluctant to pursue jobs in these fields because of the harsh working conditions.

Under such circumstances, changing the attitude of college graduates is really important, said Hu Ruiwen, the former president of Shanghai Education Scientific Research Institute.

"With 10 times more students, college is no longer a place to train senior talent and elites," he said. "Parents and students should learn to lower their expectations and find suitable positions for college graduates."

The report is based on a questionnaire of 529,000 2012 college graduates from 972 majors in 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities on the Chinese mainland. It is the fifth time the consulting institute has released the annual report.

According to the report, from October to April the proportion of graduates signing a contract for a job was 35 percent, 12 percentage points lower than the same period last year. The contract-signing process in 2013 is slower than that of 2012, indicating that the employment situation for graduates is tougher this year.