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Students turn to ‘fashionable’ majors

  Compared with traditional majors such as physics, chemistry and history, some “fashionable” university majors such as the performing arts, modeling, golf, luxury research and even equestrian training have become more popular with high school students.

    A new 20-student crosstalk class opened by the Beijing Film Academy attracted more than 900 applicants*, while more than 200,000 students applied for performing arts majors this year throughout the country, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Education last week.

    Since the Beijing Olympics, many universities had also introduced sport services and management majors such as golf management and equestrian* training, aimed at training management staff and professional coaches for venues such as first-class golf clubs. The majors had also attracted a growing number of students and at some universities, only one in 100 applicants would be selected to study the major, the ministry said.

    “Many students are attracted by high incomes in industries related to these majors, such as becoming a movie actor or working for extremely rich people,” said Fan Kun, vice director of the Shenzhen Education Bureau.

    Tuition fees for most of these majors were more than 30,000 yuan a year, nearly five times the fees for majors such as economics and management. “Tuition fees for golf management is nearly 30,000 yuan a year and I had to spend more than 70,000 yuan a year on my son for expenses such as clothes, equipmente and training,” said Liu Xiufang, a mother of a Shenzhen University student.

    However, employment rate for these majors was quite low. According to Ministry of Education statistics, only 70 percent of graduates in the performing arts were able to find a job in 2009 and the number working in the performing arts was much lower.

    Graduates majoring in sports services and management also found it hard to find a job. More than 30 percent were now unemployed, a much higher number than those who graduated with traditional majors, the ministry said.

    “Only about 10 percent of students could actually work as models,” said a teacher, identified as Zhong Ling, from Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology.

    “Students should be very careful when choosing majors, not to follow a popular trend. Choosing majors should be based on one’s ability and interests, particularly when choosing performing arts majors because if you cannot find a job in that area, it will be much more difficult to find a job in other areas,” Fan said.

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