Number of university graduates in China 2008-2018

In 2018, a record high of around 7.5 million students graduated from Chinese higher education institutions. The graduate number was nearly double of that in the United States and was expected to exceed eight million in 2019. The vast number of graduates from Chinese universities originates from the increasing enrollment in higher education across the country. The enrollment ratio has jumped from less than ten percent in 1998 to over 45 percent in 2018.

What are the popular majors?

In recent years, the most favored majors among Chinese students were finance, civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, international trade, economics, accounting, clinical medicine, law, and the English language. Meanwhile, archeology, veterinary medicine, translation, transport engineering, and physics were among the least desirable subjects. However, even the popular, highly competitive fields of study do not always guarantee quick and successful employment after graduation.

What are the labor market prospects for graduates?

The graduate employment rate within half a year after graduation has been generally stable in China over the past seven years, exceeding 90 percent on average. Those that struggle to find a job are usually graduates from less technical, quantitative majors who often lack both practical “hard skills” and “soft skills” such as communication, critical thinking, and managerial abilities. Engineering, technology, IT and science majors top employment rates as well as secure higher-starting salaries. The average monthly salary of a university graduate in China has increased more than 120 percent in the last ten years. However, high rent and costs of living in cities like Beijing or Shanghai often force young graduates to return to their hometowns or to seek employment in the second and third tier cities.

Number of university graduates in China between 2008 and 2018

Number of graduates in thousands
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Release date

October 2019



Survey time period

2008 to 2018

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Statistics on "Education in China"

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