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Why study in China?

  • Living in China is cheaper than in any European country, the USA, Japan and South Korea
  • China not only offers high quality degrees in the usual areas of engineering, medicine, economics and science, but in some more unusual areas like martial arts, calligraphy and Chinese language
  • China has had the fastest growing economy for the past 30 years – recently becoming the second largest economy after the USA! This could be a result of the fact that the world's top 500 companies all conduct business in the country, meaning you’ll be at a real advantage when looking for jobs after you graduate
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China's education system

In China, the academic year has a similar structure to the UK; the first semester begins in September/October and ends in January, while the second semester begins in March/April and ends in July.

Study abroad in China

Students at Chinese universities can study a range of subjects, from the usual courses like engineering, computer science, medicine and business to some more unusual areas such as Chinese folk arts, calligraphy or martial arts.

There are different types of institution in China but the main two are universities and colleges. There are literally hundreds of universities in China - some better than others. These universities consist of the best universities, the provincial/local universities and the 'normal' universities which are teacher training universities. Most of these universities offer Bachelors courses with a chance to continue on to Master's and Doctorate levels. Colleges on the other hand, offer two or three year diploma courses in various vocational subjects.

There are three main levels you can study at in China:

  • First level: Undergraduate
    • Four or five year courses
    • Receive a Bachelors degree at the end
  • Second level: Postgraduate
    • After a Bachelors, students can study for a Masters degree
    • Lasts two - three years
    • Involves studying for a number of courses, some original research and then the submission of a thesis
  • Third level: Doctorate
    • Takes a minimum of three years
    • Involves original research and then the presentation of a dissertation which assesses the students academic ability and contribution to the field

In China, most courses are taught through lectures and practical classes where appropriate. It has been found that most Chinese students prefer an organised and orderly classroom, with a set routine and firm, high standards of behavior. As such, rules may be strictly enforced and the relationship between students and their teachers is defined - there's a clear hierarchy wherein the teacher has authority and it's sometimes seen as disrespectful to question them or start discussions.

Find out how to apply to university in ChinaInternational students in China stats

How much will it cost?

Tuition fees

All tuition fees for international students are between ¥9,000 and ¥44,000 (£958-£4684). In general, undergraduate degrees cost less than postgraduate and doctorate degrees and arts subjects cost less than science, technology and medicine degrees. Expected tuition fees per year are around:

  • Undergraduate Degree: ¥9,000 - ¥31,000 (£958 - £3,300)
  • Postgraduate Degree: ¥13,000 - ¥37,000 (£1,384 - £3,939)
  • Doctoral Degree: ¥13,000 - ¥44,000 (£1,384 - £4684)
Find out about student Visas and what else you need to study in China

Living expenses

University in China

Depending on where you live, living costs in China will be around ¥2,500 - ¥6,400 per month; but in general, it costs less than anywhere in Europe, the USA or Japan. Included in this, between ¥1,200 - ¥3,200 (£126 - £674) will be spent on accommodation per month.

Additional costs include ¥600 per year for mandatory health insurance which must be purchases before you travel to China.


The currency in China is the Renminbi, also called the Yuan, depicted by ¥ or RMB. The current exchange rate is ¥1 : £0.11

Exchange rates can change quickly and, while this value is correct at the time of writing, it's worth checking again before you travel.

Financial assistance

Some scholarships are available from individual universities, however there are also some general scholarships available for international students. It's worth looking into them and seeing what you might qualify for, some examples include:

  • Chinese Government Scholarship
  • CHINA/UNESCO the Great Wall Fellowship
  • Distinguished International Students Scholarship
  • HSK Winner Scholarship
  • Chinese Cultural Research Fellowship
  • Provincial Scholarship

Working while you study

With permission from their university, international students are allowed to work for up to 12 hours per week during term time and longer during summer and winter breaks. A popular job for English students is to tutor English to local people.

Living in China

Getting used to the language

In order to be accepted onto a course you need to already be able to speak a reasonable level of Chinese/Mandarin. If you can do this, every day life shouldn't be too difficult. Seeing as Chinese grammar is pretty straightforward, you should be able to easily build up the knowledge you already have and see your skills improve over time.

The really great thing about living in China will be that, although it gives you a great chance to improve you Chinese/Mandarin, if you are really struggling with the language then you may be able to communicate in English! Increasing numbers of people are being taught English from a young age, making the whole experience a lot less daunting.


Students socialising in China

Most students in China choose to eat out a lot, especially as some accommodation doesn't have kitchens. There's a real variety of food on offer and it's all really different from region to region. However, this doesn't mean you'll be limited to the kinds of food available if you live in one particular region - most regions serve foods from all the others, as well as international foods.


There are a number of cultural differences between how Chinese and UK students act. In general, Chinese students will spend more time working and less time socialising. Unlike UK students, Chinese students won’t go out to clubs, get drunk and head home in the early hours of the morning. Instead, a lot of universities have curfews around 10:30 in the evening so students need to make sure they’re home in plenty of time. Parents are generally more protective, even when their children are in university. As such, dating and relationships could be taboo so be prepared to meet students who may not have as much freedom as you are used to.

Find out about student accommodation in China

Where to study?

China has literally hundreds of universities to choose from but here's a list of The China University Rankings' 2014 top 100 universities in China with their world ranking, where appropriate, noted in Brackets: