Earlier in the week we translated the first part of an article about some changes and challengesChinese students are currently facing when considering their majors and future careers. Here are five more majors that are losing favor among Chinese students and the parents, the latter of which are, of course, anxious to ensure themselves a comfortable retirement.
6. International Trade and Economics
In 1998, the National Education Commission merged international economics, international trade, international business and industrial foreign trade under the umbrella subject of International Trade and Economics, This gave students in the field well-rounded training and a strong command of economics, statistics and accounting. In 2001, China joined the WTO, prompting many mainland universities to jump on the bandwagon and establish the major—the number of students applying to study it rose as well. After almost 20 years, due to the high unemployment rate and low salary, however, the Chinese University Student Employment Report has listed International Trade and Economics as an example of a risky major.
After the 2008 financial crisis, the global economic situation has continued to be less than idyllic. Many of the International Trade and Economics students blindly recruited by schools have since entered the market, resulting in a huge influx of talent that has surpassed demand. Murkiness and confusion are the plagues those taking this major face.
After the political developments of the 1980s, journalism was part of a new wave of majors available to students at Chinese universities. That was the golden age of paper publications, when editors at newspapers, magazines and publishing houses had a strong grasp on the weathervane of public opinion. Recently, however, new technology is constantly changing, and the “omnimedia” age has arrived. In addition, self-publishing “journalists” (自媒体) are coming out of the woodwork in abundance. Smart phones allow people to document, spread and receive news as it happens, anytime, anywhere. Traditional media no longer holds a monopoly on the news.
How long this new trend will persist has yet to be observed, but the steadily falling number of opportunities in the field of traditional media is obvious to all. The scene is changing constantly. Traditional media’s modes of broadcasting have long ago withered under the siege of the internet age.
8. Industry and Business Administration
This next one seems to be a major with Chinese characteristics. Industry and Business Administration is really just a very general Business Administration degree with a bit of everything, from marketing to HR, thrown in. The threshold for the major isn’t too high and many universities currently offer it. However, while it may look good in theory, in practice it leaves a lot to be desired. A large amount of practical experience is needed before such studies can be implemented in the real world. Because of this, students of well-known universities and average institutions are treated quite differently when it comes to employment. Unsurprisingly, students in better-known universities tend to have an easier time finding internships.
Because the major only just touches the surface of a wide variety of subjects, it poses difficulties for graduates who want to start at management level. Usually, they are forced to choose a position in sales, administration, customer service, HR or as a clerk or secretary. To put it nicely, the gateway to employment is quite wide for students of this major, giving them a lot of options. To be more direct, there’s not really a “long straw”, so to speak.
9. Hospitality Management
Hospitality Management and Industry and Business Management are really two peas in a pod. The once burgeoning Hospitality Management major was seen as incredibly promising, providing plenty of space for development and potential, especially in hotel management and exhibition management fields. It seemed like a perfect fit for the ever-changing international tourism market, but after 20 years, this course of study hasn’t kept up with the times, and signs of its collapse are beginning to show.
With the unpredictable state of the Chinese tourism industry today, students of this major can be found in an array of fields. Luckily, however, they’ll be roughly prepared for just about anything in hospitality, so changing career paths isn’t too difficult.
10. Lesser Spoken Languages
English is one of the three major sections of the Chinese high school exams (gaokao) and has already become the number one foreign language in China. In light of this, many Chinese students with a knack for languages choose to study critical languages that are less widely used at university. Although the market in which they seek employment is relatively small, competition is also limited.
Many such languages, i.e. French, Japanese, Spanish, etc, have now become far more mainstream than they once were and both the number of students and programs increase every year. Something else that complicates things is that among the more developed countries where these languages are spoken, English is also essential. Even though foreign enterprises place importance on local languages, they also take into very serious consideration one’s English ability. Adding to that the fact that students’ linguistic capabilities when they begin as Freshman are generally quite limited, the road ahead is not easy. Graduates will likely be limited to work with very strict language requirements, and required to leave China to pursue further study and take selected courses for career advancement.
To sum up, the employment environment is undergoing rapid change. What’s important is that you know what you want to do and what you can do. If you’re coming to China to study any time soon though, maybe steer clear of these majors.
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