This year China will see a total of 8.7 million higher education students, of which 8.3 million will be studying at first degree, and 360,000 at postgraduate level.
University and college graduates will mostly be "assigned" jobs in large and medium-sized state firms, key research institutes, teaching units and remote areas in dire need of specialised personnel.
But the State Education Commission said it is phasing out the old mandatory state job-assignment system, and establishing a "fee-collection" system serving China's market-oriented economy. The old system operates at 96 per cent of institutions.
The 40 institutions that have been piloting the commission's new "fee collection system" can allow students to find jobs freely after graduation, provided they adhere to state guidelines.
But the commission stressed that graduates and postgraduates who have at any stage agreed to state job assignments are not affected by the changes and must abide by the terms of their contracts.
Further advantages claimed for students under the fee-collection system are that those scoring lower marks than required in their entrance examinations may still be allowed to study in certain specialism. This will not be related in any way to the student's ability to pay, a practice which is becoming increasingly common in many universities and colleges, and with which the commission is unhappy.
Under the fee-collection system every enrolled student will pay 1200 yuan (Pounds 93) a year. The SEC expects all universities and colleges to adopt the system by 1997.