On February 23, the Ministry of Education (MOE) held its third press conference of this year, giving an overview of the measures to improve vocational education. Moderated by spokeswoman Xu Mei, the conference was attended by Chen Ziji, director of the MOE’s Department of Vocational and Adult Education, Wu Xuemin, Party Secretary of Nanjing Vocational University of Industry Technology, and senior officials from the education authorities of Shandong and Guangdong Provinces.
2022 is a critical year for the development of China’s vocational education, and improving the quality and social status of vocational education are the top priorities. To this end, efforts should be made to enhance school industry partnerships and push forward education reforms. On this basis, work should be done to break down stereotyped societal perceptions about vocational education, increase the attractiveness of vocational education to students, parents and employers, and build a conducive environment for the future growth of vocational education.
Undergraduate-level vocational programs
According to Chen, today as many as 20% of graduates from higher vocational education institutions are enrolled in undergraduate programs. In its next step, the MOE will provide more vocational school students with high quality undergraduate-level vocational education, and plans to create about 10 undergraduate-level vocational programs of excellence, to set an example for the whole country.
In 2019, Nanjing Vocational University of Industry Technology became China’s first pilot school to offer undergraduate-level vocational programs. The University’s Party Secretary Wu Xuemin said the first class of students in these programs would graduate in June this year. At the previous job fairs organized by the University, the participating employers provided an average annual salary of more than 90,000 RMB. Up to now, each student got two job offers on average and half of them had already signed employment contracts.
Vocational College Entrance Examination
From 2013, China has been pushing forward a reform on the examination and enrollment mechanism of higher vocational education, and seven provinces such as Shandong and Jiangsu have set up pilot programs to organize Vocational College Entrance Examination (as complementary to the more widely known National College Entrance Examination or Gaokao). Chen said the MOE would adopt policies to allow more students who passed the Vocational College Entrance Examination to get enrolled in undergraduate-level vocational programs or higher vocational programs. Building on previous experience, the MOE would further refine the process and content of the Examination, making it more standardized, fair and diversified.
Chen said it was necessary to track students into separate academic and vocational programs after they finished the compulsory 9-year education. The proportion of students enrolled in vocational education should be reasonably established and the conditions of secondary education institutions should be improved. He said the balanced development of secondary vocational schools and regular senior high schools helped to meet the diversified demands of students with different abilities and potential, and provide them with ample room to grow and thrive. Also, the robust development of secondary vocational education helped to create more jobs, promote regional economic development and improve people’s livelihoods.