Massification of higher education: challenges for admissions and graduate employment in China

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Working paper

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Centre for Global Higher Education working paper series

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Centre for Global Higher Education, UCL Institute of Education


With a strong conviction to transform the country and prepare its people to cope with the growing challenges of the globalising market, the Chinese government has actively increased higher education opportunities. The higher education system has experienced a transformation from elite to mass form. The massification of higher education has provided more and more access to junior colleges and universities, and subsequently produced a growing number of college graduates looking for jobs in the labour market. Similar to other East Asian countries/economies (like South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong), the strong impacts of China’s expansion of higher education on admission and the labour market are expected to become apparent. College students have begun to doubt the effect of higher education massification on bringing more equality in admission and on improving their competitiveness in the job market. This, in turn, leads to a widespread dissatisfaction with higher education development in China. This paper recognises that students coming from different family backgrounds may confront diverse experiences in higher education admission, graduate employment, and opportunity for upward social mobility. Yet it sets out – against the policy context highlighted above – to critically examine the impact of the massification of higher education on admissions, and subsequently on graduate employment and social mobility in contemporary China. In the final section, this paper also reflects upon reconstructing new education governance frameworks to promote educational equality in instances where higher education is massively expanded.

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Funding Information

This working paper is part of Research Programme 1. ‘Globalisation, UK higher education and the public contributions of HEIs’.

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Copyright © Centre for Global Higher Education 2016. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Additional Information

The present paper also published as a book chapter in Mok, K. H. (ed.) Managing international connectivity, diversity of learning and changing labour markets.

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Recommended Citation

Mok, K. H., & Jiang, J. (July 2016). Massification of higher education: Challenges for admissions and graduate employment in China. Centre for Global Higher Education working paper series no. 5.Retrieved from