Continued Growth in PhD Recruitment

The Chinese Government continues to encourage the expansion of PhD recruitment, as it has done at both the UG and PG levels, given the alternatives to domestic PhD study – entering the workforce and studying abroad  – continue to be so challenging. China’s PhD recruitment started in 1981 with a modest 900 people, whereas by 2021, recruitment reached 120,000.  A number of universities, such as Shanghai Jiaotong, have abolished conventional PhD exams in the period after 2018 and instead require application-based evaluations.

Shanghai Jiaotong is expecting 3,000 new PhD enrolments in 2022, built on years of continuous incremental increase. Shanghai Jiaotong’s PhD students now receive a minimum stipend of RMB49,000 (US$,600) per annum. Since the requirement for SCI publishing quantity and Citation Index measurements was removed by the Chinese Ministry of Education (MoE) in 2021, many top Chinese universities have replaced this with domestic publication measures: the Chinese Social Sciences Citation Index (CSSCI) and Chinese Science Citation Database (CSCD).  Some industry experts even called for the complete removal of PhD student recruitment quotas to create a free “market-driven” process.

The starting salary for PhD graduates in corporates is typically less than US$40K per annum; many public universities offer packages under US$30K a year.

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