A record total of 895,000 students will graduate from China's 1,075 universities and colleges of higher education this year, an increase of 38 per cent on 1994.
It is anticipated that graduates will have no problem finding jobs, but are being advised by the state education commission to lower their expectations, particularly regarding levels of pay and responsibility, as they enter an unbalanced and fluctuating jobs market.
Despite efforts to streamline and improve efficiency in many state-owned enterprises and government departments, demand for graduates still exceeds supply.
Salary and responsibility levels are affected accordingly. This was revealed at a two-day national conference on graduate assignments, sponsored by the State Education Commission.
While graduates and employers have been given greater freedom in choosing jobs and selecting staff, Chinese graduates still have to be "assigned" to the jobs they find by their university with state approval.
Another factor contributing to the imbalance in supply and demand is the fast expansion of Chinese universities in the past few years. This expansion failed to adjust the education structure to meet the training and employment requirements of the country, according to Wang Zhichang, director of the education commission's university student division.
Significantly, most recent higher education expansion has taken place in majors such as literature, secretarial management and in the natural sciences, areas in which employment opportunities and demand for graduates has continued to decline. But expansion has not occurred in many areas of high graduate demand, such as in the applied technologies and business, where training requires expensive equipment and/or specialist expertise.
Graduates in most demand this year are those majoring in machine and electronic engineering, architecture, communications, business and finance subjects, accounting and foreign languages.