How can universities in China empower graduates for career success?

China’s relationship to international study is changing. Demand for studying abroad seems to be rising post-COVID, “fuelled in part by concerns over a slowing economy at home”. Confronted with limited job prospects in their home country, students are looking to study abroad in pursuit of better opportunities. However, many students continue to encounter challenges in securing employment upon graduation.  

What employers are saying 

Insights from the QS Global Employer Survey 2023 reveal that Chinese employers consider experience in relevant subjects as the most important priority of their entry-level recruitment.

Away from subject-specific knowledge, Chinese employers have expressed concern around a large skills gap score (assessing the disparity between the perceived importance of a skillset and satisfaction with them) amongst graduates from Chinese institutions in communication, as well as teamwork.  

Skills gaps will be a focal point of discussion at QS China Summit’s panel discussion: ‘Career catalysts’, as a panel of experts suggest methods for universities to improve support in developing well-rounded individuals prepared for the job market. 

Navigating career-focused education  

According to the QS International Student Survey 2023 data, when asked for their most important considerations when choosing a course at university, they indicated salary and skills as their top priorities.

It will help to boost my salary 56% 
It allows me to learn new skills  55% 
It is necessary for me to work in the field/job I want 49%  

We looked at the study preferences of prospective Chinese students looking to study abroad. 49% of respondents seeking study in the UK place career alignment among their top five course selection factors. 48% of respondents looking to study in Australia and New Zealand and 47% in the US also rank this factor within their top five. 

Chinese institutions can take this as an incentive to focus more on offering courses that align with students’ career aspirations and emphasise qualifications that lead to salary increases. Additionally, they should prioritise initiatives to improve graduate employment rates to attract prospective students. 

Generative AI is having an impact on Chinese students’ course choices

Data from the QS Generative AI Student Pulse Survey 2023 shows the change in the preferred courses of prospective Chinese students following the emergence of Generative AI. It’s increased the popularity of Computer Science and Information Systems by two percent, while the interest in Engineering decreased by six percent. Notably, Business and Management has seen a two percent rise in interest – as did Art and Design which was not among the top 10 subject choices before Generative AI’s emergence. 

Are more students turning to creative methods to utilise Generative AI? Already we’ve seen institutions like Arts University Plymouth encourage the use of Generative AI. 

Closing the skills gap  

Along with the gap in satisfaction in communication and teamworking skills, active learning is another area with a significant skills gap of 5.0 – showing dissatisfaction amongst Chinese employers.  

It’s not all bad news – other destinations across Asia do have significantly larger skill gaps than in China. Nevertheless, how can we ensure ongoing progress in the region? Explore this, and more at the QS China Summit 2024.

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