The Prestige of Patty Flipping: China’s Hamburger University More Exclusive Than Harvard

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Nelson Ching / Bloomberg

Surely there’s no ivy on the Golden Arches, but Chinese students are trading big-name colleges for Big Macs.

McDonald’s booming initiative in China needs more capable managers than ever to keep its 1,300 stores running full steam ahead, not to mention keeping pace with the company’s plan to open 1,000 new locations in the next four years. The fast-food giant recently opened a Hamburger University training center on the outskirts of Shanghai, and those with the gusto for managing burger-flipping and fry-cooking are eagerly awaiting their day in the classroom.

But Bloomberg reports that only eight out of every 1,000 Mickey D’s workers get to head to the “school.” It’s a selection rate of less than one percent, compared to the U.S.’s most prestigious college, Harvard, which reports a 7 percent acceptance rate. Students take a five-day management course at Hamburger U. with a select class of 30 others. They’re called back for additional seminars as their schedules allow, all on McDonald’s dime.

(More on See how McDonalds is booming during the recession.)

But why are millions of Chinese trading books for burgers? Simply, the economic outlook is as grim in China as it is in America – if not moreso. The Atlantic notes that more than 26 percent of China’s college graduates are unemployed, compared with a 4.2 percent unemployment rate for the country’s urban workforce.

Though NewsFeed supposes a job is a job, especially one that pays for its workers’ educations. And maybe there are even a few Big Macs thrown in, to sweeten the deal.