China is fast becoming a major competitor in the world, for its industries, economy and higher education. The country can too be a cheap alternative to a world-class higher education as compared to countries such as the United States, Australia etc. Read our guide below to find out if studying in China is for you.

A quick intro to China
Culture and people
Cost of living
China Education
    Tuition fees
    Universities in China
    Top 10 Universities in China
    Admission requirements
    Student pass and visa
Application process
Spare time


A quick intro to China

Map of China

1.3 billion might be a large number, but not for the fastest growing economy in the world-- which China has been the last few decades. China too stands as the second largest economy in the world, just one step down from the United States. Hence, not only would working there be immensely rewarding, but studying in China would be so as well.

Some of Asia’s and the world’s top universities belong to China, such as Tsinghua University and Peking University in Beijing. According to the Ministry of Education of China, in 2014 there were 377,054 international students in the country. Moreover, the Chinese government is very active and encouraging in the development of the country’s higher education standing, both in quantity and quality

China exudes both tradition and modernity, with its rich history extending further than 5,000 years, its seven UNESCO world heritage sites such as the Forbidden City and its booming cities such as Shanghai. Amongst these lie beautiful landscapes of hills, lakes, and wide-open fields. Chinese culture too is, essentially, fascinating to immerse oneself in- which would automatically be part of your student life if you choose to study in China.


Culture and people

While studying in China you may encounter a language barrier. Although some of the population is fluent in English, many are not--being prepped for such an occurrence beforehand would be a good decision. However, the Chinese tend to be extremely generous and willing to help you out, so you will not always be caught between a rock and a hard place.

Learning Mandarin, on the hand, may be beneficial to you for your duration of studies in China. Not only will it allow you to live like a local and completely indulge in the culture, food and people, but, considering Mandarin is the most spoken language in the world, it would also be a very useful certification to add to your resume.

Unlike several other destinations of study, students will find culture in China as its completely own entity, causing an impact on every aspect of life, whether it be food, travel or entertainment. Simply learning about the cultural history of China can be intriguing for foreigners; spending a few years completely immersed in it would definitely be an experience in its own right.


Cost of living

Whether tuition fees or living expenses, China is a haven for those students seeking for good quality education and student life at the end of which they won’t be entirely drowned in student debt. Living even in the most extravagant of Chinese cities, Shanghai, would amount to half of total expenditure as compared to a city in the United States. Populous cities in China such as Beijing are generally more expensive in terms of living costs, while small, less urban cities would give you an even more affordable lifestyle. The cost of basic student requirements in China are listed below

Description Cost in CNY (per month) Cost in US$ (per month)
Accommodation 2000 - 3,300 300 - 500
Transportation (one subway ticket) 2 0.3
Food (one meal) 10 1.5
Movie ticket (one ticket) 40 6
Mobile Internet/package 88 13
Beer (domestic 0.5 lt bottle) 4 0.58
Clothes (1 pair of Levi's jeans) 500 74
Travel (1 day in a city) 300 45



Education in China

In regards to higher education, the Chinese government is aiming for 500,000 students enrolled in its universities by 2020- a figure which shows the extent to which plans have been made for the further promotion of universities in the country, and encouragement towards international students enrolling in them.


Tuition Fees

For a quality education, China’s tuition fees are remarkably low, making the country excessively affordable for those seeking a good abroad education. While annual tuition fees can amount to USD15,000 in several countries around the world, in China students can obtain a degree from a top 50 university paying a small annual fee of USD1500.

Study Level Tuition Fee, Per Year, in CNY Tuition Fee, Per Year, in US$
Foundation / Pre-U Between 13,000 - 20,000 2,000 - 3,000
Diploma Between 10,000 - 17,000 1,500 - 2,500
Bachelor's degree Between 13,000 - 27,000 2,000 - 4,000
Master's degree Between 20,000 - 33,000 3000 - 5,000


Universities in China

Key projects have also been initiated, such as Project 211 aiming to raise universities to world-class standards, and the Project 985, which helped in founding some of the world-class universities in the 21st century. With this mission, the government has poured large amounts of funding to certain universities to help improve facilities, build research centers, attract world-renowned scholars and faculties, among other developments. In addition, the Project 985 has produced the C9 League--the Chinese version of the US Ivy League. With these projects in place, the number of colleges and universities have doubled in the last decade, some of which have ranked as the best in the world for science and math.


Top 10 Universities in China

Several universities in China are present in the rankings of top 300 universities in the world, and in particular, these universities rank highly in Asia and BRIC’s top rankings as well. The top 20 universities in China are as follow:

Top Ten Unis in China


Admission Requirements

Many courses in China are taught in Mandarin instead of English--hence, if you are planning on pursuing a course in Mandarin, you are required to present a certificate of a passing grade in the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) exam, between levels 3 to 8. This certificate is usually obtained through a one to two year intensive course learning Mandarin. This would enable you to not only understand lectures but also communicate with the Chinese population in general for your own comfort and convenience.

However--as most students would usually opt for–you plan on pursuing your degree in English, you may not be required to learn Mandarin, although you may be asked to take and show proof of having passed an English language test, usually the IELTS or TOEFL.


Student pass and visa

For China, once students receive their offer letter from the university of choice, a decision must be made of the type of visa the student is required to apply for. Student visas in China are divided into two: X1 and X2. X1 is for students who are planning on studying in China for more than six months, while X2 is for those who will be studying in the country for less than six months.

Thereafter, students must go to the China consulate or embassy in their country to apply for the visa, along with the following documents:

  • Offer letter from university
  • Visa application form (JW201 or JW202)
  • Physical Examination Record
  • Original passport
  • One recent passport sized photograph

After application and approval of your visa, you may leave for your studies in China. Once arrived, international students are required to pay a visit to the Health quarantine bureau in order to confirm their Physical Examination Record. If student are found to have failed it, they would be asked to go through it again in China.


Application process

From the very beginning of your journey to study in China to the very end, the steps required of you are laid out below, including searching for courses, applying for student visa, and starting your degree.

China Journey


Spare time

There are plenty of forms of entertainment the Chinese population indulges in, specifically karaoke, eating out and drinking tea. However, you might find that during the first few months of your study in China you may want to go travelling to the major hubs of the country such as Beijing in Shanghai, or the picturesque scenes of Anhui and Fujian--it may take a while for you to cover all of China’s treasures and your definite curiosity over the country’s rich history and culture.