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Runhua Zhao / Dec 24, 2018 06:34 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

A record 2.9 million people took China’s graduate-school entrance exams for 2019 enrollment this past weekend – up 21% from last year.

The sharp increase in test-takers is seen as a response to low hopes for the Chinese job market amid the country’s slowing economy. The number barely surpassed 2 million two years ago.

The job market is particularly tough this year, with 8.34 million domestic graduates competing for jobs.

Pursuing a graduate degree can improve a job candidate’s chances – but there's no guarantee of success. China’s Ministry of Education has said it plans to raise the overall acceptance rate of graduate-level courses to 60% by 2020, which may increase the quality of job candidates, but also may hurt those who have not graduated from well-known institutions.

Related: Chart of the Day: Students Expect to Be Paid $73 More a Month Than Employers Plan to Pay Them

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