A low birth rate and a changing social fabric have toppled education from the list of most-popular courses favored by college-bound students, who are increasingly opting for courses such as tourism and catering, figures released by the Ministry of Education show.
The statistics compared the 50 most-popular departments among students who applied for college last year with those in 2004. It showed that education — which ranked 12th 10 years ago — had fallen out of the top 50 list.
By contrast, logistics, catering, transportation and tourism departments, which students in 2004 generally shunned, saw a surge in interest, with five fields of studies ranking in the top 25.
In particular, restaurant and tourism management departments made it to the top 10, outranking regularly charted fields such as law and economics.
The difference is most likely a result of a change in the nation’s demographics — a low birth rate and a longer life expectancy — ministry officials said, adding that nursing ranked seventh on the list thanks to an aging society and increasing demand for professional caregivers.
The number of part-time teachers waiting to become full-time staff also contributed to the fall in popularity of education, the officials said.
Meanwhile, electrical engineering, mechanics, information and business administration continued to be mainstays, ranking in the top five on both lists.
Given the growing demand for software engineers in the digital age, information management advanced 12 places to take the top spot last year.
Statistics also indicated that students nowadays favor applied language departments, such as the department of applied English, over traditional language departments, while philosophy and political science did not make it to the list, officials said.
Design-related studies also showed a significant rise in popularity, with visual communication ranking 14th.
Commenting on the catering industry’s growing popularity, Howard Plaza Hotel head chef Tsai Ching-nan (蔡清南) said that catering is a very demanding job. Only about one-third of those who major in catering end up pursuing a career in this field, he said.
Dental implant manufacturer HC Bio-S president Cheng Hung-chun (鄭鴻鈞) said that working attitude — not educational background — is what matters the most, adding that he would promote whoever works hard to high-ranking positions.
Online job bank Yes 123 vice president Yang Tsung-bin (楊宗斌) said that a surfeit of bachelor’s and master’s degree holders means that most first-time workers are likely to receive low wages, except for jobs that require high technical expertise, such as doctors.
Yang said college students should develop a competitive edge before graduation if they are to a land a decent job.
For example, they can obtain a certificate in a specialized field, participate in internship programs, or learn a useful skill, he said.