As of press time, over 10 provinces and cities have published the number of students who will take this year's gaokao. Among these, the number of examinees in Beijing, Liaoning and Jiangsu provinces was the lowest seen in recent years, the China News Service reported Thursday.
Only 61,000 students in Beijing will take this year's gaokao. The number has been dropping for the last 10 consecutive years and has fallen to nearly half the figure in 2006.
Central China's Henan Province still has the largest number of gaokao takers, with 820,000 students saying that they will sit for this year's exam. But the number of gaokao takers in Henan has also been dropping for six consecutive years since 2009.
Chu Zhaohui, a research fellow at the National Institute of Educational Sciences, told the Global Times that the drop is mainly due to the decline in the total number of Chinese high school students. Based on the current population structure, that trend will not change in the short term.
A report released by education site eol.cn in 2014 said that the drop, which was mainly caused by a population decrease, will last through 2020.
Chu added that more and more students are choosing to pursue a college education abroad, while some are beginning to think that working may be a better choice than going to college, adding to the decrease.
However, Chu pointed out that the situation will likely be different in the long term, since secondary education is becoming more popularized in western China as the government increases benefits for students in rural areas.
Chinese universities are required to enroll about 60,000 students from poverty-stricken areas, according to a circular issued by the Ministry of Education and the National Development and Reform Commission on Thursday. The arrangement aims to promote urban and rural areas' equal access to higher education. The circular did not specify how the candidates would be selected