China cutting under-employed college majors: paranoid or good policy?

Laurie Burkitt for the WSJ reports the Chinese Ministry of Education has announced plans to phase out college majors that don’t get people employed. Emphasis mine:

Yet the government’s decision to curb majors is facing resistance. Many university professors in China are unhappy with the Ministry of Education’s move, as it will likely shrink the talent pool needed for various subjects, such as biology, that are critical to the country’s aim of becoming a leader in science and technology but do not currently have a strong market demand, a report in the state-run China Daily report said.

An op-ed in the Beijing News criticizes the approach for a different reason, saying that it will only spur false reporting of employment rates from schools that are looking for greater autonomy to produce more diversified, higher qualified students.

These seem like pretty good critiques of a policy aimed at reducing the number of unhappy, unemployed, college-educated young people in China.

Could it be that these drawbacks are considered “worth it” by officials concerned about the size of a disenfrancised bourgeoisie, or is it just that such a narrative is so deeply ingrained in my Western-social-science-educated skull that I can’t spot the good intentions?

Or, could it be that the government is accomodating actual people rather than development goals or the ephemeral goal of gathering accurate statistics?


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