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College entrance exam: candidate numbers fall

CHINA'S national college entrance exam saw a decrease in candidates for the first time in the past seven years, said the Ministry of Education yesterday.

About 10.2 million people registered to attend the upcoming exam, down 3.8 percent year on year, according to the ministry.

In contrast, candidates for the exam saw a continuous increase from 2002 to 2008, jumping from 5.27 million in 2002 to 10.5 million in 2008.

This year's examinees will have a greater opportunity to enter college as they are competing for 6.29 million places in China's universities and colleges, up 4 percent from last year, the ministry said.

About half of the country's provinces and regions earlier reported a decrease in candidates. Some media reports came to the conclusion that greater employment pressure caused by the economic downturn led to the drop.

"I don't agree with this view," said Jiang Gang, deputy director of the ministry's College Students Office.

"The fall in candidate numbers is mainly due to a decline in the number of senior high school graduates," he said.

In China, most of the candidates for higher education are students finishing three years of study in senior high schools.

Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics showed the number of senior high school graduates decreased from 8.49 million last year to 8.34 million this year. The figure is estimated to fall to 8.03 million in 2010.

College graduates are having a hard time finding jobs this year as posts are being axed due to the global economic slowdown.


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