A total of 2.9 million Chinese students take the 2019 entrance exam for postgraduate studies from Saturday to Monday, the highest number in the past 40 years, according to a recent report.
There are 520,000 more applicants this year compared to last year, up 21.8 percent. Nearly half of those taking the exam this year have already finished their undergraduate degree, while the other half are expected to graduate in 2019, said the report released by China Education Online, www.eol.cn.
After a 12-year suspension, the country resumed the entrance exam for postgraduate studies in 1978, admitting 10,708 students.
In 2017, enrollment exceeded 806,000, 74 times more than in 1978, the report said, adding that the number continues to rise as part-time postgraduate study programs were incorporated into the national entrance exam system in 2017.
Some prestigious universities have expanded postgraduate enrollment since China initiated a project in 2017 that aims to elevate 42 of the country's higher education institutions to a world-class level.
Some 28 out of the 42 universities expanded their enrollment for 2019 programs, it said, citing that Fudan University will recruit 700 more postgraduates than the previous year.
Being a more competitive job candidate is the top motivation for many people to pursue postgraduate studies, the report noted.
"People say we further our studies because we don't want to work. In fact, we just want a more ideal job," said Lu Ying, a post-grad computer science major at a Hebei-based university, who has sat the exam twice.