China to Cancel College Majors That Don’t Pay

It appears China, like the United States, is struggling with an increasing population of students who graduate but cannot find jobs. But China’s solution? Slash those majors. Reports the WSJ:

China’s Ministry of Education announced this week plans to phase out majors producing unemployable graduates, according to state-run media Xinhua. The government will soon start evaluating college majors by their employment rates, downsizing or cutting those studies in which less than 60% of graduates fail for two consecutive years to find work.

The move is meant to solve a problem that has surfaced as the number of China’s university educated have jumped to 8,930 people per every 100,000 in 2010, up nearly 150% from 2000, according to China’s 2010 Census. The surge of collge grads, while an accomplishment for the country, has contributed to an overflow of workers whose skillsets don’t match with the needs of the export-led, manufacturing-based economy.

Yet the government’s decision to curb majors is facing resistance. Many university professors in China are unhappy with the Ministry of Education’s move, as it will likely shrink the talent pool needed for various subjects, such as biology, that are critical to the country’s aim of becoming a leader in science and technology but do not currently have a strong market demand, a report in the state-run China Daily report said.

I doubt the move will actually bring about the desired changes. In fact, the opposite effect may emerge: those majors that are currently at the threshold of demand will become the new undesired majors. Of course, one can imagine how institutions will try to pad their numbers with regard to graduation rates, salary levels, etc. It’s all ripe for corruption.