Chinese Universities Struggle to Increase Ties to Employers

Perhaps this essay in the Chronicle should be titled “Chinese Universities Strive to Democratize Relations to the Marketplace”: http://chronicle.com/article/Chinas-Universities-Struggle/131610.  Much as has happened in India and others in the “BRIC” family of nations, Chinese educators are trying to figure out how to transform their institutions to better prepare students for employment in their globalized economy.  As the piece points out, it was only 40 years ago that professors were condemned toviously  manual labor if they were suspected of harboring “capitalist sympathies.”

The scale of the Chinese problem with “employability is huge: “about 23% of the 6.5 million who graduated in 2011 are still out of work.”  An earlier post discussed the new interest and support of career coaching professionals at Chinese universities –they have a daunting task ahead of them.

This article discusses the new dialogue taking place about the merits of government programs which encourage “universities to design new majors that focus on emerging industries like bioengineering and alternative energy.”  This is seen as one way to create direct linkages between a university education and employment –an issue many nations are confronting since the global economic downturn in 2008.  Apparently, most linkages with industry are “overly reliant on the efforts of individual professors.”

Lastly, it seems that where there are successful curricular partnerships with industry, they exist at so-called elite universities.  Students at what are referred to as “midlevel” institutions have a much harder time finding employment as their institutions have few ties with  industry.  The article cites growing interest of administrators at “lower layers” of the higher education system in learning from  American educators how to create more curricula flexibility and build ties to industry.

It may take decades for universities to close the employment gap of their graduates –this begs the question of how China will manage an annual unemployment rate of 77% of their college-age graduates in coming years.

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