"The weak increase in the number of students applying to take the
entrance examination for graduate schools this year suggests a turning
point, indicating that students will be less interested in graduate
studies in the future," said a story appearing on influential websites
like www.xinhuanet.com.cn after the examination period ended on January
Though the absolute number of students signing up to take the
examination is increasing, the rate of increase dropped precipitously this
year compared with last year, according to data provided by the Ministry
This year, 1,282,000 people registered to take the exam, only 7,000
more than last year, representing an increase of only 0.5 percent.
In the years following the reinstatement of graduate applications in
1981, the number of students applying for the exam skyrocketed. Last year
1,275,000 students signed up for the entrance examination, 100,000 more
than in 2005, representing a year-on-year increase of 9 percent.
"This year's slight increase shows that students are becoming more
realistic in thinking about whether to take the entrance examination or
not," said Tian Zhihui, vice-dean of the Graduate School of Communication
University of China.
As potential applicants have noted, it takes time and energy to prepare
for the examination.
The potential financial burden represented by the examination is
another factor students have to consider.
During this period, the students usually do not work, which only adds
to the burden.
"But maybe the main reason for this phenomenon (the declining growth
rate) is that students are somewhat disillusioned because they have seen
post-graduate degree holders losing their competitive edge in the job
market in recent years," said Tian.
Because of the boom in master's graduates, many have found it difficult
to find the kind of job they would had expected after investing so much
time, energy and money in getting their degrees. The situation looks even
worse for those without any work