China’s two-day national college entrance exam, known as Gaokao in Chinese, will begin on June 7. The Ministry of Education has said about 10.2 million people have registered to attend the exam — a decrease in candidates for the first time in the past seven years. Among the candidates are 7.5 million senior high school graduates.
Jiang Gang, deputy director of the Education Ministry’s college students office, said the number of senior high school graduates this year was 8.34 million.
That suggests about 840,000 high school graduates have not registered for the exam, considered by most Chinese as the best route to a life-changing opportunity.
According to a survey by China Youth Daily, more and more Chinese parents and their children are of the opinion that it is becoming increasingly difficult for college graduates to find jobs in a fiercely competitive society.
The idea that ‘to be selected by a university through the exam, Gaokao, means getting a good job in advance’ has always been in the forefront of Chinese people’s minds.
China has carried out higher education reforms since the 1990s. In tandem with the natural growth of China’s economy, tuition fees in universities have grown from a few hundred yuan in 1989 to the current average of RMB6,000.
Chinese incomes have not grown in line with the increase in tuition fees. The comparatively poor economic situation has become an important factor in these candidates’ choice.
More and more parents also voiced concerns about the lower ranking of top domestic colleges and universities internationally. Moreover, it is comparatively easier for students to pass entrance exams for foreign universities, such as the SAT, thereby gaining eligibility to higher-ranking international institutions.
China.org.cn reports that according to CRI.com, an official from Ministry of Education recently said that future college entrance examinations would include both academic performance testing and a comprehensive evaluation. This reform aims to change the situation in which one’s access to a college education is decided solely by an academic test.