Road to Universities in China
If you’re considering studying abroad there are plenty of reasons why China should be high on your list of destinations.
The Chinese government has invested heavily in higher education in recent years and is dedicated to creating more ‘world-class’ universities to attract increasing numbers of international students. In fact, the country aims to have 500,000 international students enrolled in its universities by 2020, so you can expect a warm welcome when you arrive.
You can also be sure of value for money, as tuition fees are relatively low in comparison to European countries and the USA. The opportunity to travel and explore the world’s most populous country is another huge draw for foreign students. Many use their study holidays to experience first-hand a history, culture, climate and landscape different to their own. While soaking up the Chinese way of life you’ll have plenty of time to pick up a second language, most likely Mandarin, the most commonly spoken language in the country.
After graduation your prospects are good, as many employers prefer candidates who already have experience of the Chinese culture and knowledge of local languages. China is an increasingly popular destination for students from around the world, with the number of international students in China doubling in the past 10 years.
Ten years ago, more than a third of all international students in China were from South Korea. Now, the demographics are far more diverse and there are 10 different countries that each make up more than 3 per cent of the international student population, while South Korea’s contribution has fallen to 17 per cent.
Choosing to study in China is a smart move for anyone looking to try something slightly out of the ordinary, while knowing that you’ll be in good company.
Whether you intend to secure a graduate job or continue studying at postgraduate level, the reputation of your university is important for your future prospects.
Chinese universities are increasingly well respected; the number included in major global university rankings has risen significantly over the past five years, particularly compared with the UK, which has fallen in many rankings.
In 2011, there were only six Chinese universities in Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings, whereas in 2015-2016 there were 37, more than either Canada or Australia.
Financial support is an important factor in the decision to study abroad and the Chinese government is offering a wide range of funding opportunities to attract international students, including more than 40,000 scholarships at 277 institutions.
In 2015, 40 per cent of all international students new to China received government sponsorship. The number of scholarships available has increased fivefold since 2006.
Knowledge and experience of China is an increasingly valuable asset in many industries. Experience of China and Chinese, which is the third most popular language to learn in the world, could give you a great career boost.
The majority of higher education institutions in China are public and governed by the Ministry of Education. They are made up of:
colleges of professional training and higher vocational education.
Around 600 of the 3,000 universities and colleges are qualified to admit international students. These institutions offer a combination of short courses, language studies and undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.
aSome universities concentrate on a specific field of study – though not exclusively – and use this area of expertise in their title. For example, the Beijing Institute of Technology, China Agricultural University and the Ocean University of China.
China has 33 institutions in the QS World University Rankings 2016/17. The top five are:
Shanghai Jiao Tong University
University of Science and Technology China.
While rankings might be important to foreign students trying to decide where to study, the Chinese set more store by the C9 League, a group of nine universities considered equivalent to the British Russell Group or the American Ivy League. The universities that make the C9 League are:
Harbin Institute of Technology
Shanghai Jiao Tong University
University of Science and Technology of China
Xi’an Jiao Tong University
To search for institutions by province see Study in China.
The academic year in China is split into two semesters and runs from September to July. Start dates at Chinese universities differ from western academic calendars as the autumn semester falls between February and July; and the spring semester between September and January.
Hult International Business School
Located in Shanghai Hult International Business School offers Masters and MBA programmes to educate, inspire and connect business talent from around the world.
LIU’s one-year Accelerated Global MBA programme prepares graduates for careers in three of the world’s largest economies. Taught jointly by Fudan University and Gonville and Caius College at the University of Cambridge, you’ll spend time studying in Shanghai, London and New York.
The University of Nottingham Ningbo Campus
The first foreign university to open in China offers a unique mix of taught Masters and PhD programmes.
Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University
As the largest international university in China, XJTLU offers a range of English-taught Masters and PhD programmes with University of Liverpool degree.
Both taught and research postgraduate courses are available in a variety of subjects and usually require two to three years of study. The main language of instruction is Mandarin but an increasing number of universities are offering Masters courses in English to cater for the growing number of international students.
Like with a Bachelor’s degree, if you’re not a native speaker of either language you’ll need to prove your proficiency before being admitted onto a course.
You’ll learn through a series of lectures, seminars, workshops and your own individual research. Assessment methods include written and oral examinations, coursework and presentations.
To be admitted onto a Masters course you will need to:
be aged 18 or above
hold a valid foreign passport
hold a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent
provide one/two letters of recommendation.
Some institutions may ask you to sit an entrance exam.
Doctoral programmes are also available in China and take three years to complete.
To successfully gain a PhD you’ll need to produce your own individual, unique research and complete a thesis.
You’ll need a Masters qualification or equivalent and at least two letters of recommendation from professors for entry onto a course.
Studying in China is relatively inexpensive when compared with the USA or Britain. Larger cities on the East coast (Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong) will cost more for accommodation and tuition fees than inland smaller towns and cities.
Course fees vary with each programme, institution and location and usually increase each year so check with the admissions department of your chosen university to find out the exact amount that you need to pay.
On average you should expect to pay between £2,000 and £7,000 per year on tuition fees, with postgraduate courses reaching the mid-to higher end of this scale.
When applying to study in China you need to consider:
Funding to study in China
A number of scholarships are available to international students. The Chinese Government Scholarship Programme fully and partially sponsors foreign students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. The China Scholarship Council manages the programme and the amount available depends on your subject and institution.
To attract the best international students many leading Chinese universities have also set up their own scholarship schemes for foreign students. You’ll need to contact institutions directly to find out what’s on offer.
It’s also worth looking into local government scholarships. Some provincial and municipal governments in China offer funding support to international students studying in the area.
Chinese Government Scholarship-Chinese University Program
Chinese University Program is a full scholarship for designated Chinese universities and certain provincial education offices in specific provinces or autonomous regions to recruit outstanding international students for graduate studies in China. It only supports graduate students.
Supporting Category. This scholarship only supports graduate students.
Duration. This scholarship only supports master’s students for no more than 3 academic years or doctoral students for no more than 4 academic years. The scholarship covers both major study and Chinese language/preparatory study, as specified in the Admission Letter.
Scholarship students can register for either Chinese-taught program or English-taught program if applicable. Program Search can help you find the program and university you’re interested in by visiting http://www.csc.edu.cn/laihua or http://www.campuschina.org.
The Chinese University Program provides a full scholarship which covers tuition waiver, accommodation, stipend, and comprehensive medical insurance. Please refer to Introduction to CGS—Coverage and Standard for details of each item.
When to Apply
You need to apply between early January and early April. Please consult the Chinese universities for the specific deadline of each year.
1. Applicants must be a citizen of a country other than the People’s Republic of China, and be in good health
2. The requirements for applicants’ degree and age are that applicants must:
be a bachelor’s degree holder under the age of 35 when applying for the master’s programs;
be a master’s degree holder under the age of 40 when applying for the doctoral programs.
Jiangxi Government Scholarships
Category of Scholarship
Target of Scholarship
Use of Scholarship
How to apply
International students can apply for a place at a Chinese university online via China’s University and College Admission System (CUCAS) or by applying directly to your chosen university. Each university sets its own requirements for entry and you’ll need to successfully meet these before being admitted onto a course.
If you apply through CUCAS you’ll need to pay a service fee charge of roughly £40, as well as the application fee charged by the university. Contact institutions directly to find out how much they charge.
For some postgraduate courses you’ll need to apply directly to your chosen institution.
Official application deadlines are as follows:
Autumn semester intake – late July, although all applications are encouraged to be made before this date.
Spring semester intake – late January, again it is advised that all applications are submitted prior to this date.
Some institutions ask that you have no criminal convictions and that you are able to prove a reliable financial state.
The most widely used languages in China are Cantonese and Mandarin, but there are many other dialects spoken.
If you’d like to study a course in Mandarin you’ll first need to prove you level of proficiency. The majority of universities ask students to pass the Chinese Proficiency Test, or the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) as it’s known in China. The HSK is divided into three categories, beginner, elementary/intermediate and advanced.
For most undergraduate programmes you’ll need to prove you’re competent at levels 4 to 6 before being admitted onto a course. For postgraduate degrees you’ll need a pass at levels 5 to 8.
Test centres are located throughout the world or alternatively you could learn the language while in China. To find out more about HSK see The Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK).
Those that struggle to get to grips with the tricky language shouldn’t worry. There are a number of courses taught in English so there will be no need to prove your proficiency in Mandarin, although you may have to submit English proficiency results such as IELTS if you’re not a native English speaker.
Foreign students who intend to study in China will need a visa to do so. The best time to apply is once you have received your letter of acceptance from your institution; all you have to do is visit your local Chinese embassy.
The type of visa needed will depend on the length of your course:
For a study period of no more than 180 days you’ll need an X2 visa.
If you intend to study in the country for more than six months you’ll need an X1 visa.
To apply for the X1 visa you will need:
an original passport with at least six months validity remaining and blank visa pages
a completed Visa Application Form with a recent colour passport photo
the original and a photocopy of the admissions letter issued by your school or institution
the original and a photocopy of the Visa Application for Study in China form.