A record number of students - 8.2 million - who graduate from universities this year will face an increasingly competitive job market amid China's economic upgrade.
The Chinese Ministry of Education reports that the number of college graduates has jumped dramatically in recent decades.
The number of graduates this year will be almost 300,000 more than in 2017, which also set a record, the Xinhua News Agency reported. In 2001, there were only 1.14 million university graduates in China, reported the Economic Information Daily.
"Increased enrollment in higher education has created more university graduates … but the employment space is limited due to current real economy conditions in China," Chu Zhaohui, a research fellow at the National Institute of Educational Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday.
In 2016 the enrolment ratio in higher education in China reached 42.7 percent, according to the Chinese Ministry of Education, which predicts the ratio would surpass 50 percent by 2019. In 1998 the enrollment ratio was just 9.76 percent.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Chinese students who have graduated from overseas universities are also expected to return to China and join the job hunting competition, according to a report sent to the Global Times on Monday by Beijing New Oriental Vision Overseas Consulting.
"For most people landing a job wasn't easy this past recruitment season. There's a lot of competition, especially for jobs in Beijing that can provide a Beijing hukou," Huang Yiran, a post graduate student from Nankai University, told the Global Times on Monday. A hukou or residency permit provides access to a number of local government services.
Huang has attended more than 10 job fairs since September and still has not found a job she's willing to accept. Some of her school mates have even attended private counseling programs to improve their chances.
"The commercials and ads for career guidance and interview classes are everywhere. It feels like they are making money from our anxiety," Huang said.
Grads' pay remains low
"University graduates are not the elites of the job market anymore," Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, told the Global Times on Monday.
In 2017, the average monthly salary of employees who graduated from universities was 4,854 yuan (0) in China, and 5,200 yuan in Beijing.
However, many young graduates in Beijing spend more than 60 percent of their income on rent, Legal Mirror reported.
"Many of my schoolmates are going back to their hometowns or looking for work in second-tier cities such as Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, because the work and living pressure in Beijing is too high, as is the pollution," Huang said.
The income level of these overseas graduates is not much higher than people who graduate from Chinese universities. Around 46.9 percent of them earn 5,000-10,000 yuan per month. Only a third said they are satisfied with their current job, according to the New Oriental's report.
Chu called on graduates to lower their expectations and standards while looking for a job and find their own interests and advantages.
"They should accept the concept that all jobs are equal and change the traditional Confucian idea that encourages people to seek a higher social position," Chu said.
"Meanwhile, society should be more tolerant of enterprises, particularly private enterprises in order to allow them to create more positions," Chu said, adding that more investment channels should also be created to encourage start-ups by new university graduates.