Students prepare for the upcoming entrance exam for postgraduate studies at Hebei University of Engineering in Handan, Hebei province, on Dec 17, 2018. [Photo/IC]
The number of candidates to sit the entrance exam for postgraduate studies from Dec 22 to 24 will reach a record high of 2.9 million, a 21.8 percent increase over last year, according to a report published by the education information portal eol.cn.
The report made public on Thursday showed that it is the largest increase in a decade, while the primary motivation for candidates still remains a desire to improve their competitiveness in the job market, China Youth Daily reported.
More and more Chinese have been expected to sit the exam in recent years, and this year, the top three provinces are Henan province with 25.6 percent, Jiangxi province with 24.8 percent, and Hebei province with 22.1 percent.
A student yawns while preparing for the upcoming postgraduate admission test at Hebei University of Engineering in Handan, Hebei province, on Dec 17, 2018. [Photo/IC]
The number of candidates enrolled in postgraduate studies has also greatly increased in the past four decades, from 10,708 in 1978 to 806,103 in 2018, with a rise anticipated for 2019 as well.
Among the candidates, the number of previous exam takers has surged in recent years, accounting for almost half of the total number of candidates this year.
Liu Xiaomeng, who graduated from a landscape architecture specialty at a university in Shandong province last year, will sit the exam for the second time.
A student reads a book and prepares for the upcoming postgraduate admission test with a blanket draped over her head and shoulders at the library of Huaiyin Normal University in Huai'an, Jiangsu province, on Dec 19, 2018. [Photo/IC]
She said she did not do well the first time around, and when she tried to find a job, she found she could not secure an ideal position without a master's degree.
"I do not want to miss the opportunity of an ideal job, so I want to have another try this year," Liu said.
Chen Ying, another previous graduate, said that some people thought graduates aimed for postgraduate studies because they did not want to work, but she thought that it was because they want to find the most suitable job with their higher education.
Students prepare for the upcoming postgraduate entrance exam at a corridor at Shandong University of Science and Technology in Qingdao, Shandong province, on Dec 20, 2018. [Photo/IC]
According to the report on Thursday, employment pressure and enhancing competitiveness in the job market are the primary motivations for candidates to take the exam, accounting for 36 percent of the surveyed candidates.
Candidates hoping to improve their research capability accounted for 21 percent, while 17 percent chose getting a master's degree and diploma as their major aim.
Students prepare for the upcoming postgraduate entrance exam at a library of Yanshan University, Qinhuangdao, Hebei province, on Dec 20, 2018. [Photo/IC]