Should universities ‘sell’ their graduates online?

A Chinese university has launched an e-commerce site in a bid to improve its graduate employment figures. Will others follow suit? asks Ellie Bothwell

July 9, 2015
Source: iStock

Graduate employability has become one of the most ubiquitous phrases in higher education in recent years.

With the financial crisis derailing the upwards trajectory of graduate earnings and leaving many graduates struggling to secure graduate-level employment, universities have naturally come under closer scrutiny on this score.

In the case of England, where there has been a shift from the state funding undergraduate education to students paying through higher tuition fees, the financial return when they enter the job market has become all the more important.

The result is that employment figures have never been more important not only to students, but also to universities and the government (which is hoping that the loans made to students to cover those fees will be paid back).

So how might universities go about improving their graduate employment statistics? The solution being trialled by one Chinese university is to resort to “selling” its graduates online.

He Hua, president of Kunming University in Yunnan province, has launched a “talent shop” on a retail platform operated by China’s online commerce giant Alibaba, enabling prospective employers to bid to offer each student a job contract.

According to the People’s Daily Online, the site profiles 65 of the university’s top graduates, including a photograph, a brief summary of their career ambitions and their desired salaries.

In the UK, the universities and science minister, Jo Johnson, has made it clear that graduate employability figures of some sort will be part of the criteria used in a new teaching excellence framework.

With universities likely to do everything in their power to maximise their score in the TEF, this raises a question: when the TEF is implemented, might any university in the UK be tempted to do something similar to Kunming?

And if such a website were to spring up, what would that mean for graduates who aren’t awarded a 2:1 or a first, or universities that are ranked towards the bottom of the league tables?

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride