China’s Ministry of Education announced this week plans to phase out majors producing unemployable graduates, according to state-run media Xinhua. The government will soon start evaluating college majors by their employment rates, downsizing or cutting those studies in which less than 60% of graduates fail for two consecutive years to find work.
The move is meant to solve a problem that has surfaced as the number of China’s university educated have jumped to 8,930 people per every 100,000 in 2010, up nearly 150% from 2000, according to China’s 2010 Census. The surge of collge grads, while an accomplishment for the country, has contributed to an overflow of workers whose skillsets don’t match with the needs of the export-led, manufacturing-based economy.
Yet the government’s decision to curb majors is facing resistance. Many university professors in China are unhappy with the Ministry of Education’s move, as it will likely shrink the talent pool needed for various subjects, such as biology, that are critical to the country’s aim of becoming a leader in science and technology but do not currently have a strong market demand, a report in the state-run China Daily report said.
There's also the high likelihood that the stats will start to get skewed, as they have with law schools in the U.S., when they are the basis for making some very real decisions.
But let's just pretend the employment data are legit. I wouldn't be surprised if the subjects being shut down might be surprising to Americans. To begin with, I doubt there's a whole lot of navel-gazing studies departments in China, though I could be wrong about that. In the quote above, biology is mentioned, which might confuse us given the usefulness for that major for pre-med or going the route of various pharmaceutical/medical-related careers. I imagine that some of the lower-performing majors may be ones that are rather popular due to attractive careers linked to them.... but that there are not many slots for, relatively, in China as of yet.
Now let us consider if federally-backed student loans were dependent on your major. I can just imagine the ruckus. But the principle is similar - if it's the government's money being used, then the government can call the shots.
So I would be wary before asking for even more governmental involvement in your own education. There may be lots of strings that will get attached, and not only the current one of not being able to discharge student loan debt in a bankruptcy.