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Study in China – Complete Student Guide



Investment in higher education in China has been enormous in recent years, making it an attractive option for students wishing to study abroad. The number of higher education institutions in China has doubled in the last decade, and today, there are nearly 3,000 institutions.

China, which is determined to have some of the best universities in the world, launched Project 211 in 1995 to bring 100 of its universities to the top of higher institutions in world. As part of an additional project, a league called “C9” was created specifically for facilities designed to provide elite education.

This investment and the modernization of higher education in China have made this institution a more popular choice for foreign students wishing to study abroad.

Since 1980, Chinese higher education system has undergone rapid development and fast expansion. Considering the enrollment and the number of degrees awarded each year, China leads the list.

Hence, Students across the globe have seen China as an accepted destination due to its cheaper fees and quality of education.In addition, the Chinese scholarships open to international students also attract attention.

China has the 3rd largest international student population and is next after UK and US in terms of population of students.


Formerly, international students were commonly seen in cities like Beijing and Shanghai but today, students have got more options.

13 cities have institutions of higher educationwith more than 10000 international students and 7 cities with more than 20000 international students.

Why study in China

YES, an increasing number of options are available for students to choose from when they think of studying abroad, but China is becoming a more and more popular study abroad destination.

The QS World University Ranking 2019 in total, have 40 Chinese universities voted in. Here, 6 Chinese universities ranked within the top 100. Almost 500,000 foreign students study at Chinese universities, most of them from Japan, the USA, Thailand, South Korea and India.

The number of international students has increased thanks to the government’s new extended scholarship program, which helped nearly 60,000 international students in 2017.

In addition, the government seeks to improve the number and scope of available English degrees. This has already increased by 63% in the last five years.

Here are some of the reasons why you should join the huge number of international students already studying in China:

1. You’ll be joining a growing trend

The popularity of China as a destination for students from around the world is increasing as the day goes by. The evidence for this is the number of international students in China that has doubled in the past decade.

Already, China is known to be the fourth most popular destination for travel generally and has the third-largest population of international students, behind the US and the UK.

This number has experienced growth by an average of 10 per cent a year for the past 1 decade. No other popular study-abroad destination has experiencedsuch a far quicker growth rate.

2. There are more options than ever

For the past decade, visitors and students from international communities have been going “deeper” into China, with the choice of traveling to a wider range of cities than before.

In the past, the only cities one could commonly see international students were Shanghai and Beijing.

2006 had international students were in Beijing or Shanghai in about a percentage of 50 which has fallen to a percentage of 32 though.

Today, more than 10,000 international students are found in the 13 cities across China, with seven cities having above 20,000 students.

China’s popular cities include Liaoning, north of Beijing and Guangdong in the south of China.

3. Chinese universities have a growing reputation

Whether one has the intention of securing a graduate job or continuing his/her study at postgraduate level, your university’s reputation is relevant for your future prospects.

The respect given to Chinese universities is on the high side; the number included in major global university rankings has witnessed a significant rise over the past five years, in particular comparison with the UK, which has experienced a fall in many rankings.

In 2011, only six Chinese universities made it to the in Times Higher Education ’s World University Rankings, whilst on the contrary, in 2015-2016 the list had 37 Chinese Universities, above either Canada or Australia. You could imagine the increase.

4. Heavy investment by the government in international students

One of the crucial factors considerations put in place by international students when that want to study abroad is whether they will receive any form of financial support from either the school they are applying to or the country wherein the school is located, and there is no doubt the reason behind the influx of students into Chinese Universities because Chinese government have been offering a wide range of funding opportunities, with more than 40,000 scholarships at 277 institutions inclusive.

In 2015, government sponsorship was offered to 40 per cent of all international students new to China. There has been a fivefold increment in the number of scholarships available since 2006.

5. It could be great for your career

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Are you looking for an increasingly valuable asset in many industries, then you’ve got one in the knowledge and experience of China.

The country is undergoing growth in economic and cultural significance evidenced in it being the fourth most popular destination for international travel, with nearly 12 million business trips to China in 2015.

Chinese happens to be the third most popular language to learn in the world and the experience of China and its language, Chinese, could certainly give one a great career boost.

According to Marie Rosszell’s blog, an international student at the University of Macau, who secured a job with Google in Japan partly as a result of her international experiences, choosing to study in China differentiates one from others in the workplace. Explaining further, she said that her friends who went to the university with her said that if one survives living in China, then that person cansurvive and be prepared to confront anything in the world nomatter how daunting it might seem.

She said that the experience gathered at Chinese Universities allows one to be an open-minded, ready to adapt and be flexible, which is just the very thing every employer is looking for. If you study in China, you will surely have the experience about how things work in this part of the world and this enables you to become more independent.”

China Student Visas (X1/X2)

China Student visa (X Visa) is given to students who have gained admission into any Chinese college.

The sub-divisions of the Student Visa include X1 and X2. The difference between the sub-divisions is that X1 is given out to students whose duration of study in China is for a minimum of 6 months while X2 is issued to those whose duration of study is but for a period of less than 6 months.

Multiple entry students with a validity up to 5 years are the ones entitled to holding this visa. Students holding X1 visa is mandated to register at local public security bureau within 30 days of arrival, where they will be in receipt of China Residence Permit to replace X1 visa.

Usually, one entry students with a validity up to 6 months are entitled to receiving X2 visa.

Study in China Tuition fees and Living Costs

  • Costs of living in China For International students

With the rapid growth of its economy, the cost of living in China is also increasing, but there are very affordable option for international students. Rural areas will offer significantly lower living costs than large cities. Although Shanghai is known as a particularly expensive city, the prices are still half as high as in New York!

The cost of accommodation for students varies from $ 200 to $ 300 per month, depending on location.

Transport in China is very cheap and there are many affordable public transport options that will cost you little on every trip.

Due to the good number of partnerships between China and universities from UK and U.S., it is crystal clear, the reason why the number of international students is on the rise.

On average, around 4,000 USD is spent by international students on accommodation and about 2,000 USD for other living costs (such as food, transportation, etc.) yearly. So, a student monthly budget of a minimum of 500 USD.

Study in China Scholarships

Seeing as the reasons why you should study in China are many, we would not be doing justice to this topic if we fail to mention how to fund your stay in the country, a very important discourse.

Are you one of those wishing to study in China? Have you been unable to make your dream come true because of money? Below are scholarships and grants available to both Chinese and international students to study in China.

These scholarships are often open for masters, Ph.D., and professional development courses. Full time or part time study in China and abroad also have several opportunities made available for it from the Chinese government.

These opportunities include:

  • IB Diploma Academic fully-funded programmes at WISS in China, 2020
  • 2020 / China / Western International School of Shanghai
  • Civil Engineering International Scholarship at Zhejiang A & F University in China, 2020
  • Beijing Government International Scholarship at USTB in China, 2020
  • Shanghai Jiao Tong University Graduate funding for International Students in China
  • Yenching Academy of Peking University Full Fellowship for International Students in China
  • NAU Chinese Government funding for International Students in China, 2020
  • LZU Confucius Institute International Scholarship in China, 2020
  • Chancellor’s Scholarship at Guangdong Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in China, 2020
  • The 2020 “Study in Hefei” Government funding for International Students in China
  • Zhejiang University Confucius Institute funding for International Students in China, 2020
  • WISS Outstanding Achievement partial awards in China, 2020
  • Zhejiang Gongshang University funding for International Students, 2020

Applying for University in China

As in the UK, China has a central system for universities. CUCAS (Admission System of Chinese Universities and Colleges) is a website where all applications can be submitted.

There is also an online portal called CUAC (Application Center of the University of China) where applications can be submitted. This service also advises students on choosing the right university and degree program. Upon request, students can also apply directly to the university.

It is important to note that China has age limits for course candidates. Students must be under 30 to apply for a bachelor’s degree and under 40 years to apply for a postgraduate degree.

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China Study Plan – what you need to know.

China Study plan is an organized schedule that describes study times and addresses learning objectives during one’s stay in a Chinese University.

Before one is admitted into Chinese Universities, he/she is requiredto write a study plan for CSC scholarship which will bear the reason why one wishes to study in China, what one’s learning goals of being educated in China are, how to plan in order to see to the achievement of one’s desired goals in a Chinese University, and what one plan to venture after graduation or completionof education at a Chinese University.

China study plan is similar to general study plans or study plan essay and have a study plan for CSC scholarship created will bring about increment in one’s study schedule organization, and also increase the chances available to one to receive a Chinese Scholarship award.

In some Chinese Universities, aside writing a study plan or research proposal, motivation letter document is also required. This is to clearly state why you wish to study in China.

To write a study plan for CSC scholarship, the following should be included.

1. Your full name and past academic credentials

2. Your most recent education

3. Your educational achievements

4. What beliefs you have of Chinese culture

5. Why you want to study in China

6. Expected learning objectives/goals

7. How you plan to study in China

8. Your strengths & Conclusion

Top Chinese Universities

Recent developments in China have put the country at the forefront of urbanisation. There are currently 20 major cities, hosting over three million inhabitants.

If you enjoy bustling cities that offer a wealth of options and opportunities, studying in Shanghai or Beijing could be the right choice for you. Other popular cities with the international student community include Chengdu, Kunming and Tianjin.

There are a number of top institutions located across China. Some of the top universities are:

  • Tsinghua University: 

Located in Beijing. In the QS World University Rankings 2019, it was placed 17th in the world. Member of the Chinese C9 league. There are around 46,000 students at the university, almost 3,000 of whom are international. Top subjects include: engineering, architecture and materials science.

  • Peking University: 

Located in Beijing. A prestigious university also in the C9 League. High numbers of international students are enrolled each year. Ranked 30th in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2019. Renowned for its traditional Chinese architecture on campus. Top  subjects include: linguistics, dentistry, chemistry and materials sciences.

  • Fudan University: 

Located in Shanghai. Classed as China’s third best university and ranked 44th in the world. Included in the elite C9 league. Fudan is renowned as a highly selective school and currently, around 32,000 students attend the university. Top subjects include: politics, business, modern languages, chemistry and materials sciences.

  • Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University: 

If you wish to earn two degrees for your undergraduate study, then a degree at this university could be for you. Located in Suzhou, this university is a partnership between Xi’an Jiaotong University and the University of Liverpool in the UK. More than 13,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students currently attend the university, hailing from 50 countries around the world. All programmes of study are taught in English and focus on developing the critical thinking and independent learning of students. There are 90 degrees currently on

offer at the university with top subjects including: business, finance, engineering, science and urban planning.

  • Sun Yat-sen University

Dr. Sun Yat-sen founded the National Canton University in 1924 and gave the school motto’s inscription with his own hand writing. After his demise, a formal decree was passed by the national government that was set up during the first cooperation between the Communists and Nationalists to have the institution’s name changed to Sun Yat-sen University on July 17, 1926, in memory of Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

As of 1930s, the university had seven schools which include, the Schools of Arts, Sciences, Law, Engineering, Agricultural Studies, Medicine and Education.

  • Lingnan University

Lingnan University is a private university founded by Andrew Happer, MD and a group of American missionaries in Guangzhou in 1888. At first, its name was Canton Christian College before it was relocated to Tuen Mun in the mid-1990s and renamed Lingnan University in 1999. Today, Lingnan University is one of the top schools of economics and management in China.

  • Nanjing University

Nanjing University is a major public university in China, the oldest institution of higher learning in Nanjing, Jiangsu, and a member of the elite C9 League of Chinese universities. Nanjing University was founded in 1902 as Sanjiang Normal School, its name was changed for a number of times until its renaming as Nanjing University in 1950.

  • South China University of Technology (SCUT)

SCUT is a major public research university in China with its location in the Tianhe District and Panyu District of Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, China. This institution is known for its multidiscipline with its focus on engineering, combined with science, also promoting well-coordinated development of management, economics, humanities and law.

According to Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) release in 2016, its engineering ranks 22nd among universities in the world and 46 among Best Global Universities in 2018’s U.S. News & World Report. Being a Chinese Ministry of Education Class A Double First-Class University, it was established in 1952. Wushan Campus (or North Campus), University Town Campus (or South Campus, HEMC Campus) and Guangzhou International Campus (GZIC) as the campuses of SCUT

  • Shandong University

Shandong University(SDU) is a public comprehensive university situated in Shandong, China. As at 2009, it has a student population of 57,500 full-time students which made it one of the largest universities in China. It has a direct support from the national government and was established in Jinan in November 1901 as China’s second modern national university in the country.

  • China University of Geosciences (Wuhan)

It is located in the capital of Central China’s Hubei Province, Wuhan.  It is one of Chinese Ministry of Education Double First Class Discipline Universities, with Double First-Class status in certain disciplines.

It is known to be one of the top geosciences university in China and exerts considerable influence on the Chinese mining and oil industry.

The history of China University of Geosciences dates back to Beijing Institute of Geology (BIG; simplified China which was a merger of the geology departments of Tsinghua University, Peking University, Tianjin University and Tangshan Railway College in 1952. It is one of the key universities of China. This institution underwent several changes of name before it was renamed to be China University of Geosciences in 1987.

  • Southeast University (SEU)

Southeast University is a public research university situated in Nanjing, Jiangsu, China. China has the record of this university as of one of its oldest universities and the first university to be established on coeducation basis.This institution of learning, SEU, is under sponsorship by the Ministry of Education of China aiming to become a well-known world-class university.

Southeast University has three main campuses namely: Sipailou Campus, Jiulonghu campus and Dingjiaqiao campus.

  • Xi’an Jiaotong University (XJTU)

Being a C9 League university, it has strengths in engineering, technology, management, and life sciences and located in Xi’an, Shaanxi, China. XJTU consists of twenty schools that offer comprehensive research programs in nine areas namely science, engineering, economics, management, medicine, art, law, philosophy and education. It began in Shanghai in 1896.

  • Xiamen University

This higher institution is a public university in Xiamen, Fujian. The university is known to have strengths in economics and management, fine arts, law, chemistry, journalism, communication, and mathematics.

Motto in English

Pursue Excellence, Strive for Perfection

  • Nankai University

Nankai University is one known for public research with its location in Tianjin, China. It is a Chinese Ministry of Education Class A Double First-Class University and was established in 1919, by educators Yan Xiu and Zhang Boling.

  • Tongji University

Tongji University is a comprehensive higher institution situated in Shanghai. It was founded by the German government together with German physicians in Shanghai in the on October 1, 1907. Tongji University is one of the oldest and among other universities in China.

  • Beijing Normal University

Motto in English

Learn, so as to instruct others; Act, to serve as a model for all.

Beijing Normal University (BNU) is known for its public research with its location in Beijing, China and also known for its strong emphasis on basic disciplines of the humanities and sciences. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in China and received recognition by the Chinese Ministry of Education as a Class A Double First-Class University. It was established in 1902

BNU has 55 undergraduate degree programs, 162 master programs, and 100 doctoral programs. The “national key disciplines” offered by Beijing Normal University are 16 in number, including 5 general disciplines and 11 specialized disciplines, and are given recognition as part of the top ranked programs in China.

  • Wuhan University

Motto in English

Self-improvement, Perseverance, Truth-seeking, Innovation

Wuhan University (WHU) is located in Luojia Hill, Wuhan, Hubei. In the peeiod of republicans, WHU was one of the four elite universities that existed. Also, it is one of the oldest universities in China. In 1948, University of Oxford in the UK wrote to the Ministry of Education in China, with the confirmation that undergraduate students at Wuhan University with degrees in liberal art and science, who had an average grade above 80 would be given the award of “the senior status of Oxford”.

WHU has gotten the regard of many as one of the most beautiful campuses in China.

  • Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT)

Motto in English

Strict Standards, Solid Skills

Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) is a research university and a member of China’s elite C9 League. It is one of Chinese Ministry of Education Class A Double First-Class Universities. HIT has three campuses, spanning the country from north to south: the Harbin campus in Heilong, jiang Province, the Weihai campus in Shandong Province and the Shenzhen campus in Guangdong Province.

  • Fudan University

This institution is situated in Shanghai, is one of the most prestigious and selective universities in China. Established in 1905, shortly before the end of China’s imperial Qing dynasty. One of the notable things about this university is that it was the first institution of higher education to be founded by a Chinese person.

  • Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU)

Motto in English

Gratitude and Responsibility.

SJTU is known as one of the research universities in Shanghai. It was founded in 1896 as Nanyang Public School by an imperial edict issued by the Guangxu Emperor, it has been given recognition as “The MIT of the East” since the 1930s.

  • Zhejiang University (ZJU)

Motto in English

Seeking the Truth and Pioneering New Trails

Zhejiang University (ZJU) is an elite C9 League university located in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province. It was established in 1897 and is one of China’s oldest, most selective, and most prestigious institutions of higher education. The university is made up of 37 colleges, schools, and departments offering more than 140 undergraduate and 300 graduate programs.

There are also a number of UK institutions with campuses in China at which you could choose to study.

International Students -Language Requirements

Of course, the most common language in China is Mandarin. The number one language in the world spoken by the most people. This would certainly make you attractive to future employers if you use your study time in China to master that language.

Many intensive language courses are offered if you decide to learn the language.

However, if learning languages ​​is not so appealing to you, China still offers a good experience for English only speakers.

The number of courses in English is increasing throughout the country and many locals speak English if you want to study in one of the big cities.

If you choose to study English in China, you may need to prove your knowledge through IELTS or TOEFL.

If you choose a Mandarin language course in China, you must prove that your language skills are sufficient to take a course. You may be asked by the university to pass the HSK, and the level you will attain depends on your university and course choice. There is no need to travel to China to attend this course – there are many test centers around the world.

List of courses to study in China

  • Business Studies
  • Economic Studies
  • Education
  • Engineering Studies
  • Humanities Studies
  • Languages
  • Life Skills
  • Management Studies
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Biology
  • Physics
  • Biochemistry
  • Mathematics
  • History
  • Philosophy
  • Finance
  • Geography

Part-time Work and Making Money in China

Generally, international students are not permitted to work while in China. This said, however, part-time jobs have been known to be permitted at times. Some students choose to teach English.

This helps them to earn some additional income while also meeting and interacting with local people. If you are considering taking up part-time work while in China, seek guidance from your university regarding the steps needed to gain government permission for this – it is not worth risking the conditions of your study visa by working without permission!


Knowing now that China is a great country to study in, join the train. If you have all it takes to apply for admission into any Chinese university of your choice then apply. And remember, the fees are really not an issue as most of international student fees are taken care of by the government, corporations or individuals. So, what are you waiting for? Won’t you kick it up a notch!

1 Comment
  1. Asfaw Mengesha says

    Hi I’m Asfaw Mengesha from AA ethiopia I have Done my Bsc degree from Arbaminch University and I’ve work experiance of 3yr know I want to study at china How can gate the chance thanks for your support

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