The life-changing National College Entrance Exam, also known as gaokao, has undergone constant changes in East China’s Anhui province over the past 40 years, with its admission rate up from 5 percent to 80 percent and the number of key universities from 3 to 15.
For most high-school students nowadays, it is not hard to enter a college. The main reason lies in the ever-increasing enrollment rate. In fact, the province witnessed a fifteen times hike in the rate from 1977 to 2017.
When gaokao was resumed in 1977, only 5 percent of test-takers in China were admitted to colleges. Although educational authorities lowered the threshold hereafter, there was a slow growth in admissions.
Things began to change in 1999 as an enrollment expansion policy was introduced nationwide, giving colleges and universities the nod to recruit more students. The admission rate has since then increased a lot. It stood at 80 percent in Anhui in 2012 and hasn’t gone any lower than that so far.
While enrollments have been on the rise, the number of candidates has decreased with occasional rebounds since 2008. Statistics showed 610,000 students sat the entrance exam around the province in 2008, but the number dropped to 562,000, 540,000 and 506,000 during the next three years, respectively.
The year of 2013 saw a slight rise to 511,000, and in 2015, there were 546,000 candidates, but the figure fell to 509,000 in 2016 and 499,000 in 2017.
More local colleges are allowed to recruit students in the first round of the enrollment process, which used to be a privilege of prestigious universities. In 1999, three key universities including the University of Science and Education of China (USTC) got the priority to enroll examinees with high marks, while the number rose to 15 this year.