Hijacked Education by Scientists

This is a series of articles on education in Shanghai (I tried to avoid big topics like Education in China:

Worry about Yifan’s Education and

Worry about Yifan’s Education – Part II
Is China Changeable?

Chinese or International Eduction?

University Education = Hukou in China

Schools Conducted by Gaokao

Hijacked Education by Scientists

After writing for a week about all the pressure the Chinese educational system put to students, let me spend one article to discuss about the output of this system.

The idea and even title of this article was inspired by Hong-Wei Hua’s previous article with the same title. He did great job in analyzing the current situation and answered one question: “Why University Students Cannot Find a Job after Graduation?”

Reality of University Graduates

After 16 years of school education (9 years preliminary + 3 year high school + 4 year university), and high pressure education, the graduates from universities seem should be very capable. The reality is just the opposite.

The university students today cannot find a job!

To be fair, one of the key driver was there are too many graduates compared to 10 years ago, and there are impact of current job market, but it is far beyond that reason.

Since all the students were educated in a way to pass a certain exam, I am sure they can do it much better than other students. My bias is, if you put the same students from all countries to do exactly the same paper of the College Entrance Exam (the version China is using), they may win over others.

Unfortunately, after they graduate, they are facing challenges of real world, no longer an exam. Students got lost, and suddenly found out that they are not taught of the practical skills to handle the job.

Student’s Perspective

From a student’s perspective, let me share my own story. In the third year of university, once I walk over the job posting board on campus, and started to read the job requirements: SQL Server, Java, PowerBuilder … I was so puzzled that all the skills a company required never appeared in our books – we are still struggling in C. That was the main trigger I shifted my focus, and self-studied by my own in the following two years. To be honest, I skipped most of the classes, and learn the useful things I chose. I am proud that I did it.

Company’s Perspective

As a business owner, I also hire students. My feedback is, I need to invest huge in education. University students don’t have the basic skills to do the job, and we need to turn ourselves into a training center in the first half year. The dilemma is, all best performing students go to good universities. They have huge potential, but knows very few. The students who go to not so good universities, or who didn’t go to university appeared to be more skillful, however, with limited potential.

University’s Perspective

That comes to the point why I would agree with Hua that our educational system was hijacked by scientists. Look at the courses even in today’s university in China – the goal of most of the courses is to train an academic researcher, not for working in a company.

The reality is, most of students (more then 90%) in undergraduate education have to be given up by the system because they don’t really qualify to do the academic research (and they are not interested), and those small portion go to graduate school, and then the non-qualified will be thrown out of university, and those continue to go to doctor degree.

It seems to me that the whole high education was aimed to select a certain type of people (academic research) at a cost of 98% of students’ future.

An analogy will be: thinking about a school with the only goal to select and build the fastest runner and send him to Olympics Game. But the school has the authority to recruit all young men in this country. Yes. Finally, after tough selection, there will be one or two succeed in doing that and get great result, the cost will be, however, millions of other runners who were abandoned get out of the school, only to find out that no runner is needed in this whole society.

Well. A another interesting thing is, although the goal is to find the best academic person, Chinese system failed miserably because students are lack of research skills, and creative skills. That is another topic to discuss though.

12 thoughts on “Hijacked Education by Scientists

  1. Ryan

    Great post. The Chinese education system certainly does seem to be stubbornly focused on a extremely pyramid-based success system. From many to few to several to one. Coming from a Western education system, there are similarities in that if a student only studies the required material they’ll not be qualified in the workforce after graduation, but I think there might be a bit more dogma attached to education in China that amplifies the problem.

    Your end point about a lack of research skills and creative skills is a key one. I was always told that we go to university not to learn any one thing, but to learn how to learn. And I think that it’s those skills, that ability to critically assess your own learning (as you did) which is so essential (and makes someone so employable).

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  3. solopolo

    I never knew that universities were supposed to provide courses specifically to train students for “working in companies” and “not for academic research”. I always thought universities are places where people pursue the unknown, make advances in science, and in general challenge the norm.

  4. 奥数害人















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  7. jqian


    Your post is excellent and to the point. I am very worried about this educational system. And I feel sorry for the parents and their children who have no chance to set themselves free from this vicious system.

  8. Carsten

    Jianshuo, from my daily experience, I can tell you one thing for sure: those Chinese students I worked with are not fit for an academic career either. I have to train them extensively, too.

  9. Wang

    Carsten, in reading your past posts, I am positive that you’re the kind of person who is completely oblivious to the fact that everybody around you hates your guts.

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