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Studying in China

Views:616 Time:6/4/2018 12:00:00 AM

Why study in China?

You'll have read the hype about China’s booming economy and the line about 5,000 years of history – what does that actually mean if you are about to step off a plane to study in one of the world’s fastest-developing countries?

·         China’s growing economy over the past three decades has mainly benefitted the east and south east of China, including the bustling cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Guangdong and other coastal areas, where many Fortune 500 companies have entered the booming regional market and established their Asia-Pacific headquarters.

·         Today, a large number of international students, approximately 397,500 (2015), are majoring in an increasing number of subjects, ranging from Chinese language, calligraphy, and martial arts to engineering, computer science, medicine, international business and MBAs.

·         In 2009 English language tuition was available in more than 250 programmes at 38 universities, according to the Chinese Ministry of Education. Some 40,000 foreign students visit China each year to study the Chinese language and culture, and to take advantage of the Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language Programme.

Entry and visa regulations

Once accepted by a university, students will normally be guided through the process by their chosen institution.

·         All foreign students should apply for a Student Visa (X-Visa, £74) or a Business Visa (F-Visa, £47) at a Chinese Embassy or Consulate-General before travel.

·         Students intending to stay in China for more than six months will need to apply for an X-Visa; those staying for a shorter period of time will need an F-Visa.

·         Applicants must submit original documents and one set of photocopies of their University Admission Notice, Visa Application Form, Foreigner Physical Examination Form, together with a valid passport.

The university system

Around 600 colleges and universities are accredited to admit international students.

·         Since the implementation of a university enrolment policy in the late 1990s, higher education institutions accept some 75% of the 9.15 million students taking Gaokao – the national university entrance exams.

·         Rather than rankings, Chinese people generally refer to Project 211 and Project 985 – initiatives by the Ministry of Education in the 1990s, aimed at supporting and developing approximately 100 key universities, and developing world-leading higher education.

·         The closing date for applications is usually in April or May of the year of entry. The majority of universities only have an autumn entry, starting in September.

Tuition fees

·         Tuition fees in Chinese universities are in the range £1,320–2,400 (US$2,000–4,000) per academic year, depending on the institution and subject.


The Chinese government has created a series of scholarship schemes to encourage international students to undertake studies and research in Chinese higher education institutions. In 2013, 1,087 scholarships will be released to students from 27 EU countries, including:

·         Chinese Government Scholarship Programme – providing both full scholarships and partial scholarships for international students and scholars in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

·         Chinese Government Scholarship Programme for EU – a scholarship scheme for high school graduates or university students from EU member countries to learn Chinese for one year in China.

·         Study in Asia Scholarship Scheme – a full scholarship scheme aiming to stimulate the mobility of Asian students and scholars within Asia. It is only available to applicants who come to study as general or senior scholars.

·         China/AUN Scholarship – for students from ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member countries.

Student housing

·         Most universities have dormitories for foreign students, particularly for freshmen.

·         Students can also live off-campus with the permission of the university, but must register at the local public security office within 24 hours of arrival.

Costs of living

Although prices in China are rising, the cost of living is relatively low. You can live fairly comfortably on US$15 a day. 

Typical costs in China (GBP, March 2015)

·         Apartment rent, 1 bedroom: £192 - £343 per month

·         Meal, inexpensive restaurant: £2.17

·         Meal at McDonalds: £3.03

·         Domestic beer (0.5 litre draught): £0.65

·         Imported beer (0.33 litre bottle): £2.17

·         Cappuccino: £2.87

·         Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre bottle): £0.35

·         Water (0.33 litre bottle): £0.21

·         Loaf of bread: £1.01

·         Cigarettes: £1.62

·         One-way ticket local transport: £0.22

·         Cinema ticket: £6.50

Working while studying

·         International students studying in China are forbidden to work, and work-study opportunity is relatively small.

·         Self-financed international students should make their financial preparations before arriving in China to ensure they can afford their tuition fees and living expenses.

Health and safety

International students are required to buy both medical insurance and personal accidental death and injury insurance, which can be obtained either in their own country or in China after arrival.

·         Insurance: about £60 (US$100) a year.

·         Medical examination fee (if not already taken in the student’s home country): the cost of a medical examination in China depends on each city’s local health and epidemic prevention department. In Beijing the cost is around US$100. 

·         The Chinese government passed amendments in April 2010, revising laws on border health quarantine and on the control of entry and exit of aliens. Foreigners have to state their HIV status when seeking a Chinese visa.

·         Private gun ownership is banned in China and the violent crime rate is relatively low, making the country a generally safe place to study. That said, foreigners are natural targets for pickpockets and thieves, but students shouldn’t have any problems as long as you keep your wits about you.

·         Air pollution is becoming a serious problem in many Chinese cities due to increasing industrialism. People with respiratory conditions should seek advice from their doctor before travel.

Useful links

·         Hotcourses Abroad

·         Chinese Visa Application Service Centre

·         INTO China and Study in China Guide

·         Study in China