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Following substantial investment in higher education over the past few years, if you’re looking to study abroad, China has positioned itself as a destination with plenty to offer

The Chinese government has pledged to create more ‘world-class’ universities and attract a greater number of international students. In fact, the country aims to have 500,000 international students enrolled in its universities by 2020, so you can be sure you won’t be alone when making this decision.

You can also be sure of value for money, as tuition fees are relatively low compared 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 a rich history, culture, climate and landscape vastly different to their own.

While immersed in the Chinese way of life, you’ll have plenty of time to pick up a second language – most likely Mandarin, the country’s most commonly spoken language.

After graduation, your prospects are good, as many employers in China prefer candidates with some experience of the Chinese culture and knowledge of local languages.

What’s more, you don’t have to worry about feeling homesick, as Shanghai is home to many ‘copycat’ towns. Thames Town, for instance, is a replica of an English village with cobbled streets and an English pub, so you’ll feel right at home.

Chinese universities

The majority of higher education institutions in China are public and governed by the Ministry of Education. They are made up of:

  • research universities
  • comprehensive universities
  • 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.

Some universities concentrate on a specific field of study – though not exclusively – and use this area of expertise in their title, such as the Beijing Institute of Technology, China Agricultural University and the Ocean University of China.

  • Tsinghua University (17th)
  • Peking University (30th)
  • Fudan University (40th)
  • Shanghai Jiao Tong University (59th)
  • Zhejiang University (68th).

While rankings might be important to foreign students considering where to study, the Chinese place more emphasis on the C9 League, a group of nine universities considered equivalent to the British Russell Group or the American Ivy League. The C9 League is made up of the following universities:

  • Fudan University
  • Harbin Institute of Technology
  • Nanjing University
  • Peking University
  • Shanghai Jiao Tong University
  • Tsinghua University
  • University of Science and Technology of China
  • Xi’an Jiaotong University
  • Zhejiang University.

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; the spring semester falls between September and January.

As the largest international university in China, XJTLU offers a range of English-taught Masters and PhD programmes with University of Liverpool degrees.

Degree courses in China

Undergraduate programmes typically last for four years and are available in a range of subjects from business, technology, science and engineering to medicine and the humanities. Medicine and dentistry courses can take up to five years to complete.

Courses are taught in Chinese (usually Mandarin) and English. If you’d like to study in English, you’ll need to check which institutions offer your course in the language. Non-native speakers will need to prove their proficiency before being admitted onto a programme.

Similarly, if you’d like to study your preferred degree in Chinese, you’ll need to pass a proficiency test.

To be admitted onto a Bachelors course, non-Chinese citizens must:

  • be 18 years old or above
  • be in good health
  • hold a valid foreign passport
  • be in possession of a high school graduation or leavers certificate or equivalent.

In general, entrance examinations are not a requirement for undergraduate programmes, as only a small number of universities set them for Bachelor-level courses.

Masters degrees

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 Bachelors 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’ll need to:

  • be aged 18 or above
  • hold a valid foreign passport
  • hold a Bachelors degree or equivalent
  • provide one or 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 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.

Student exchanges

If you’re enrolled at a UK university you may be able to study in China through an exchange programme. Many UK institutions have links to the country, so discuss this with your tutor or visit the international office.

For example, undergraduate students at the University of Liverpool can spend a year studying for a BA in China Studies at XJTLU in Suzhou, which is approximately 30 minutes from Shanghai. At The University of Nottingham, postgraduate students can study a variety of taught and research-based courses at the university’s Ningbo campus.

As long as you’re a full-time student enrolled at a UK university, or a recent graduate, you’re also eligible to apply to study in China as part of the British Council’s Generation UK China academic scholarships. The programmes last between five and 11 months and you can either study the Chinese language or choose from a range of disciplines, including business, economics and engineering.

Course fees

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 charge more for accommodation and tuition fees than smaller inland 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 you’ll pay.

However, you should typically expect to pay between £1,320 and £2,400 in tuition fees per year for Bachelors degrees, with courses in business, engineering and medicine costing an average of £18,319 to £38,166 per year.

When applying to study in China, you also need to consider:

  • application fees
  • visa fees
  • travel expenses
  • living costs
  • accommodation costs.

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 to you 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.

Student visas

Foreign students who intend to study in China will need to obtain a visa. The best time to apply is once you’ve 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’ll need:

  • your passport with at least 12 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 (for JW201 or JW202)
  • an admission notice from the university you’ll be studying at
  • to complete the online Visa Service Request Form
  • to make payment for your application.

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 £38, as well as the application fee charged by the university. Please note, C9 League universities charge around £115 per application.

For some postgraduate courses, you’ll need to apply directly to your chosen institution.

Although it’s advised that applications are submitted as early as possible, official deadlines are as follows:

  • Autumn semester intake – late July.
  • Spring semester intake – late January.

Some institutions ask that you’ve no criminal convictions and to prove you’re in a reliable financial state.

Language requirements

The most widely used languages in China are Cantonese and Mandarin, but many other dialects are 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 – alternatively, you could learn the language while in China. To find out more about HSK, see The Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK).

Those struggling to get to grips with the language shouldn’t worry. A number of courses are taught in English, so there’s 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.

In recent years many countries across the world have seen an increasingly strong demand to study in China. In 2010 alone, the number of students from over 180 countries who came to study for degree and non-degree courses was more than 256,000.

You may wonder why China is so attractive to those who want to study abroad; here are the top six main reasons: Affordable Study CostsTravel and Discovery, Immersed in Chinese CultureHigh-Quality EducationPromising Job MarketSafety.

1. Affordable Study Costs

Compared to some European countries, America, Japan, South Korea and other Asian countries, the cost of studying in China is much more reasonable. The tuition for English taught MBBS, Business and Engineering course etc. is only about 2000 to 4000 US dollars a year.

You can live a content life with a small budget in China. In cities like Beijing or Shanghai, a rent for a small apartment will be at least 200 to 300 US dollars per month. In small cities and towns, housing prices are much lower, for example, a rent for an apartment with two beds could be 100 US dollars per month in the city of QingdaoDalianNanjingChangshaWeifang and so on. A meal at a local restaurant for one person could only cost 2-5 US dollars. A good pair of shoes might be about 20-30 US dollars at a local market. Taking a bus is usually about 15 cents, and a subway ticket in Shanghai and Beijing is about 30 cents.

If you are curious about the price of other goods, please just click Fees and Costs

2. Travel and Discovery

Located in the east of the world, China is a country with a long history and splendid civilization. Studying in China is a best way for you to fully enjoy this charming and mysterious country. Here you will start a journey of brand-new exploration: experience its unique mix of ancient and modern civilization, enjoy its scenic beauty, study its profound culture as well as making friends with students from all over the world.

The highly-diversified terrain of China takes you from bustling cities full of colorful nightlife to isolated mountain-top Ming-Dynasty villages where you can even hear a pin drop. As one of the world’s oldest continuous civilization, China will have you stumble on history here and there. But it’s not just a museum of imperial relics, the booming development has left China’s coastline glittering with some of the world’s most modern cities with a forward-thinking dynamism.

It is convenient and affordable to travel around China owing to the well-developed transportation system. It boasts the world’s most completed railway system and the modern bullet train can reach up to 300 km per hour.

For further information about life in China please visit today’s China and living in China. To learn about where to study in China, please see cities in China.

3. Immersed in Chinese Culture

Studying in China is the start of a life full of excitements and adventures as well as a chance for you to immerse yourself in Chinese culture with a history of more than 5000 years. The profound cultural heritage here will tell you all the stuff about people in this country where is most multicultural in the world. The incomparably varied quintessence of Chinese culture, from Peking opera to calligraphy, from Chinese traditional medicine to martial arts, from the exquisite cuisine to wine culture, all of this will open a window for you to know more about Chinese culture.

What’s more, China is a multi-ethnic state. 56 nationalities with distinctive features live together in harmony. Each of the minorities has its own tradition, religion and custom. By communicating with Chinese people here, you will find your life is continuously replenished by various cultures and wonderful stories. There are always brand-new horizons to observe and know the world.

4. High-quality Education                                                                                                                 

China is seeking to promote the development of first-class universities, and Chinese government has been invested heavily in education. There are around 6,000 tertiary education institutes in China are allowed by the Chinese Ministry of Education to admit international students with 160 of these institutes are authorized to hand over Chinese government scholarships. Universities offer both degree and non-degree programs not only for programs with distinct Chinese features such as Mandarin, Calligraphy, Kungfu, Classical Chinese Poetry, Chinese Medicine, etc, also programs in subjects such as MBBSBusinessEngineering and many other majors are provided, In particular, for those foreign students who want to gain some training on Chinese language, almost all the universities set up Language and Culture programs to help them learn Chinese, meanwhile, students can get comprehensive service about HSK test and examination. In addition, a lot of universities offer Bachelor’s. Master’s or Doctoral Degree programs taught in English so that even for those who don’t know Chinese, they can get the opportunity to pursue further development.

The official educational certificates awarded by Chinese universities are internationally recognized. Bilateral recognition agreement has been reached between Chinese government and a great many of countries, including the USA, Britain, France, Japan and 65 other countries and regions. Therefore, it is very safe and guaranteed to study in China under the protection and support of the official authorization.

Please visit China’s Higher Education to learn more about Chinese higher education.

5. Promising Job Opportunities                                                                                                     

Known by all, China is the world’s second largest economy after the United States. It is the world’s fastest-growing major economy, with average growth rates of 10% during the past 30 years. China is also the largest exporter and second largest importer of goods in the world.

There is no doubt that China’s increasing influence as a global economic power will benefit all the students who study here. Huge demands of Chinese domestic market, numerous world’s top companies such as General Electric, Exxon Mobil, Volkswagen and Siemens etc have made a strategic move to doing business in China with many of them site their Asia-Pacific headquarters in Beijing and Shanghai. Studying in China will offer you a chance to join these international groups and realize yourself in the global work market. Speaking Chinese certainly gives you more options, therefore, studying in China is a best way to learn Chinese and start your fantastic career.

6. Studying in China safely

China is a nation of etiquette and Chinese people are warm-hearted and hospitable. The renowned four books and five classics in ancient China and the popularity of Confucianism had endowed the nation with a natural of comity and a consciousness of humility. As was written in the Analects of Confucius ‘isn’t it a great joy to have friends from afar’, foreigners who come to China always find them being welcomed by the local neighbors.

Being one of the permanent members of the United Nations, the Chinese government has constantly appealed its moderate foreign policy which has reached a consensus among numerous countries. Acting to push on the world peace, China has actively developed good-neighboring relations of friendship with the surrounding countries and become one of the safest countries for studying abroad.

China has become one of the most popular study abroad destinations for international students because of its long history and exciting culture. In 2012, more than 320,000 students from over 180 countries came to China to study for either degree or non-degree programs. Here are five reasons to join them:

1. Travel and Exploration
Studying in China is an excellent opportunity to explore the world’s most populous country. You will experience China’s unique blend of ancient and modern civilization, as well as its scenic beauty and bustling nightlife. Visit new places with other students from around the world who you meet, and you’ll find yourself opening your eyes not just to China, but to the whole world.

The sheer size of China’s territory means a tremendous variety of climates, cultures and landscapes await. Head northeast to Harbin to enjoy the ice festival, hit the ski slopes or just to see the water in your eyes form icicles around your eyelashes. If -25°C sounds a little too cold, then head south to the tropical beach paradise of Hainan Island and kick back in the sunshine.

Following rapid economic development over the last 30 years, Chinese cities now boast eye-catching works of modern architecture – from the towering skyscrapers of Shanghai to Beijing’s Olympic Bird’s Nest – in addition to impressive ancient structures like the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. China’s 5000 years of history has bequeathed a seemingly endless amount of tourist attractions to visit, while natural wonders of breathtaking beauty are also scattered about the country. Perhaps less well known, but equally unmissable for international students, is China’s unique nightlife made up of private karaoke rooms and extravagant mega-clubs.

Thanks to a well-developed and modern transportation infrastructure, it is convenient and inexpensive to get around in China. All cities are well-served by buses and taxis, and larger cities have modern subway systems. For long-distance travel, every city can be reached by airplane or train. China’s high-speed railway reaches a maximum speed of over 300 km/h and provides beds as well as dining services.

2. It’s Affordable
Studying and living in China is cheaper than studying and living in European countries, the U.S., Japan, South Korea and many other countries.

For example, for non-EU citizens the tuition fee for studying at a UK university is at least 7000 pounds (about 10,000 U.S. dollars) annually. The cost of living can even reach up to 13,000 pounds. Meanwhile, the United States and Australia have the world’s most expensive tuition fees.

Even in other parts of Asia studying is not cheap. Japan boasts high living expenses soaring up to 1800 dollars a month, while South Korea is one of the world’s five most expensive countries for foreign residents.

On the other hand, in China, the tuition fees per semester are generally no more than 1000 U.S. dollars, a number of short-term language courses cost just a few hundred dollars. Food and consumption in China are as affordable as it gets. A good pair of jeans sells for 10-20 U.S. dollars, the bus fare only 15 cents, and a subway ticket in Beijing only 30 cents. All in all, everything is more than affordable in China; it’s cheap! Find out more about Living in China.

3. Employment Advantage
When it comes to economics, China has been the world’s fastest growing country for the past 30 years. Even during the financial crisis, China’s economic growth has maintained a level of 8%, a pace unthinkable in other countries. China’s GDP recently surpassed Japan’s to become the world’s second largest economy after the United States. The world’s top 500 companies all do business in China, with many choosing to base their Asia-Pacific headquarters in the bustling Chinese cities of Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing.

The current rise of China has made it very clear that people who can speak Chinese and have firsthand experience of living in China are going to have a great advantage in terms of employment. China serves as a huge market for multinational corporations, and employers are well aware that a real understanding of China, Chinese culture and Chinese people is a big plus for those who want to become the world’s next generation of leaders.

4. Quality of Education and International Recognition
China is striving to build more world-class universities, and investing heavily in higher education. Aside from China’s unique Chinese language, calligraphy, martial arts and other cultural subjects, Chinese degree programs in majors such as engineeringsciencemedicineeconomics and tradeMBA as well as finance are highly revered. As for those who don’t know any Chinese, many universities offer degree programs taught in English, so you can earn your degree while learning the most widely spoken language in the world.

The academic qualifications awarded by Chinese universities are recognized by most developed countries. The Chinese government has signed an agreement on mutual recognition of academic qualifications with a number of countries including the United States, Britain, France, Japan and 65 other countries and regions.

5. Experiencing the Culture Firsthand
Though it may surprise many, Chinese culture and people are extremely diverse and multicultural, consisting of 56 different ethnicities. For example, in Lijiang, in the southern province of Yunnan, twelve different minorities have dwelled together in social harmony for thousands of years, practicing an array of religions spanning from Chinese Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, and Islam, to many lesser known ones like Tibetan Buddhism and Bimo Religion of Baiyi.

Compare that to completely different Inner Mongolia, where drinking Chinese rice wine is practically mandatory when entering the homes of locals, and whole lambs are eaten in one meal.

You’ll run into unique customs as you travel to different parts of China, but everyday life, believe it or not, will be just as new and fulfilling. Living and interacting with local Chinese and immersing yourself in Chinese society will provide you with a new way of visualizing the world and giving you the kind of insight that just doesn’t come from textbooks.












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