China has loosened residency registration requirements for university and college students to improve their employment opportunities. University and college graduates will be allowed to stay on as temporary residents in the cities where they studied for two years after graduation, the China Youth Daily reported yesterday. In the past, students were required to relinquish their temporary residence permits and move back to their home towns immediately after graduation if they could not find a job in the city where they studied. Qu Zhenyuan, a department director in the Ministry of Education, said the new measures allowed students to focus on study in their last year of school, rather than spending time job-hunting in order to stay in the cities. Mr Qu conceded the new measures were prompted by concerns that unemployment rates among university and college graduates might rocket in coming years. China raised the number of students admitted to tertiary education institutes three years ago - meaning the job market will face immense pressure to provide jobs for an increased number of graduates from this year. According to Mr Qu, 1.4 million students will graduate from universities and colleges this year, 300,000 more than last year, and the number will rise to 2.5 million in 2004. He said 80 per cent of university and college graduates and 95 per cent of post-graduates had found jobs last year. However, only 40 per cent of graduates from vocational colleges managed to find work. Under the new measures, universities are required to keep students' files in their dossiers at no extra cost for two years after they graduate. City governments are also required to waive all charges - such as temporary residence fees - for graduates. In China, an individual's file is kept in the dossier of their school or workplace. When they move or changes jobs they must take their files with them. To divert talented people to less wealthy areas, the Government will grant permanent residency permits for graduates who find jobs in provincial capitals or smaller cities. Controls on residency in Beijing will remain stringent. In order to attract graduates to teach in the countryside, the Government will reassess the qualifications of rural school teachers and sack those who are underqualified. Officials in county and township governments will also be required to have university or college degrees 'in principle'. Graduates willing to work in inland provinces will be given pay rises and promotions in advance. However, many university graduates doubted the new measures would provide enough incentive for them to move to less-developed areas, as many have been able to live in big cities for years without formal residency permits, as long as they find work.