A total of 4.57 million students are expected to participate in the national postgraduate entrance exam from Saturday to Monday, 800,000 more than last year, according to the Ministry of Education.
That marks a year-on-year increase of 21.2 percent, which almost equals the highest growth rate in the past 20 years recorded in 2018 at 21.8 percent, ministry data showed.
With a record 10.76 million university students expected to graduate next year, a survey by education website eol.cn found that the primary reason for the growth is students wanting to improve their competitiveness in the job market.
When asked why they wanted to pursue a master's degree, 59 percent of respondents said it would improve their employability, 49 percent said they wanted to learn more, and 33 percent said they are reluctant to end campus life.
The report also found that applications to less famous universities have seen a significant rise this year, as more students believe being enrolled by any university for postgraduate studies is better than competing in the job market and possibly having to wait for another year for a spot at well-known ones. Students can only apply to one major at one university for postgraduate studies.
Xizang Minzu University in Xianyang, Shaanxi province, recorded an annual increase of 123.2 percent of applicants this year, followed by Jiangxi Agricultural University at 80.3 percent and the Hunan University of Technology and Business at 72.2 percent. Meanwhile, applicants to the Renmin University of China grew only by 4.39 percent year-on-year.
Moreover, more students from famous universities have chosen to pursue postgraduate studies rather than joining the work force after graduating.
Data from Fudan University in Shanghai show 45.78 percent of last year graduates have chosen to pursue postgraduate studies, up from 40 percent in 2019 and 37 percent in 2018. In addition, the percentage of college graduates deciding to study further rose from 41 percent in 2018 to 43 percent in 2019 and 46 percent last year.