Low interest in arts and science degrees has forced administrators at Yangon and Mandalay universities to cut entrance requirements for the coming year.
When the universities reopened in 2013, the minimum matriculation mark required for entry at both was 510 out of 600. That dropped to 495 last year and courses will accept applicants with 475 marks for the 2015-16 academic year, which begins in December. Minimum marks vary between majors.
A Yangon University spokesperson said English, international relations, physics and political science were normally the most popular courses offered but demand had dropped across all majors this year.
He said the high entrance requirements in previous years had dissuaded many school graduates from applying.
Yangon and Mandalay will each accept 1000 undergraduates across 20 arts and science majors, as it did last year.
U Than Htike Aung from the All Burma Teachers Association and University Teachers Association said demand for arts and science courses was dropping because students’ parents prefer programs that provide better employment opportunities.
“Students’ parents believe that professional universities can lead to a better career,” he said.
“People think that an ordinary arts or science degree can’t help get a job with a handsome salary.”
Yangon Technological University and University of Medicine 1 Yangon are the most difficult institutions to attain places, with both having a minimum of 490 to 550 marks.
Entry to the Maritime University requires about 500 marks, while the Myanmar Aerospace Engineering University requires from 450 to 500 marks.
Yangon and Mandalay universities reopened to undergraduates in 2013 under the government’s education reform plan. The campuses had been closed to all but postgraduates since student protests in the mid-1990s. Courses were instead shifted to distance education universities or campuses on the outskirts of Yangon, such as Dagon University in North Dagon township.
Daw Nwe Yi from Yangon University’s History Department said she welcomed the lower entrance requirements. “Some students really want to study at Yangon University but they didn’t meet the minimum marks set for the subject they want to study,” she said. “If it’s lower, they can attend the course they are happy to study … They just need to study hard when they are here.”
Translation by Emoon