Chinese University Students Pursue Materialism Over Communism

June 20, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: June 20, 2006 12:00 am

In a nationwide survey targeting 11 universities in China, with respect to students' outlook on life, it was found that 66 percent of the students believe in “pragmatism,” and only one percent want to “struggle for the cause of communism.”

Professor Li Weiyi from Hebei University, who also participated in the research, believes that the findings reflect a fundamental shift in university students' mode of thinking – from emphasizing idealism to focusing on reality.

No Successors to Walk the Communist Road

The Hebei University Youth R&D center spent more than one year to collate the “University Students' Quality of Life Study.” Unlike the older generation who pursue “great ideals and spiritual values,” these findings demonstrate that majority of the students emphasize material gain and short-term return.

Here are the responses to the question “What are your dreams and pursuits?”

  • 64.5 percent: successful career and a satisfying life
  • 10.6 percent: happy family
  • 1.9 percent: individual fame and fortune
  • 14.7 percent: self-actualization
  • One percent: to struggle for the cause of communism

Motivation for Studying

In the study, 43.8 percent believe that the motivation for studying is to “secure a good job in the future”; 38.4 percent believe that the motivation is to “repay parents' kindness”; 43.6 percent believe that studying is for “self-actualization” and 33.4 percent believe that the goal of studying is to “sharpen one's ability and perfect one's personality.”

In addition, 14.0 percent, 9.7 percent and 7.8 percent believe that the motivation for study comes from “various pressures,” “to serve the country” and “to win the respect of others,” respectively.

Pragmatism is reflected in the data. In seeking employment, 37 percent place importance on “self-actualization,” 29.4 percent emphasize “income,” 13.8 percent value a “job suited to one's special training,” 8.3 percent chose “the needs of the motherland,” and 2.6 percent selected “social status.”

As the expectations of organizations toward the academic credentials of university students increase, many students started to prepare for postgraduate school exams even in their first year. Some students, while they are working on their degree, invest their spare time in other certificates ranging from computers to the English language, in order to add “weight” to their employment prospects.