Chinese plan to phase out support of college majors that fail to bring employment

Students in a class at Fudan University in Shanghai

Students in a class at Fudan University in Shanghai

A story that has gotten a lot of notice out of the far east is that China has announced plans to phase out college majors that ‘consistently produce unemployable graduates’ – e.g. programs where more than 60% of its graduates fail to find work for two consecutive years after graduation.

It is a market-based solution to a problem that many college graduates are facing today in the United States, which is made all the more interesting since China is a communist government rather than a capitalist/free market one.

From one perspective, it does make sense – the government doesn’t want to fund programs that fail to produce employed people – and the programs will supposedly be re-funded once the equilibrium is re-gained and the country needs more people of those skill sets to put to work. 

A post on RealClearMarkets.com posits

Too many aspiring young museum curators can’t find jobs? The pragmatic Chinese solution is to cut public subsidies used to train museum curators. The free market solution is that only the rich would be indulgent enough to buy their kids an education that left them economically dependent on Mommy and Daddy after graduation. The progressive American solution is to seek increased public funding to build more museums.

But in the United States, how would such a policy work? Students are not specifically government-funded at the college level (though many rely on federal loans or receive partially-subsidized tuition benefits for in-state university attendance). And even if it could, is it desireable to stifle the range of careers a budding student wishes to aim for in their lives?

As educators at the secondary level, such a policy could lead to drastic changes in what subjects are taught and how they are addressed in order to best prepare students for their lives ahead. Do you think such a shift in focus would work here in America?

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