The People’s Republic of China is a fascinating country filled with many contrasts and great diversity. The nation is currently experiencing massive economic growth and social changes. While Mandarin Chinese is spoken across the nation, with slight variations, visitors can expect to see a range of cultures, cuisines, and lifestyles from north to south, east to west.
The Australian Government's AddChina Toolkits provide information about study opportunities in China for undergraduate and postgraduate students.
Look through the online resources below to find out more about studying in China:
Timing of study sessions
Most Chinese higher education institutions have an academic year that runs from September to July of the following year, with two semesters: first semester (running from September to January or February) and second semester (running from March to July).
Preparatory language opportunities
Many Chinese universities offer long or short term Chinese language courses that could be used for both short term mobility and/or preparatory language. Another option, although often more expensive, is a specialised Mandarin intensive program. Some well know programs include CET Academic Studies in Harbin, Princeton in Beijing and the Inter-University Program (UC Berkeley-Tsinghua University).
Studying in English
Many of China’s universities offer subjects taught in English. There is no comprehensive public list of English-taught programs, although Study in China link provides some options. The number of courses offered in English grows annually. Peking University, for example, mandated that from 2013 all departments must teach at least three courses in English. Most Australian Universities have a relationship with one or more Chinese Universities. If you are considering studying in China and want to know more about what English language courses are available, the best place to start looking is at your university’s Chinese partners. If you are an undergraduate medical student, you may wish to consider institutions authorised by the Chinese Ministry of Education.
Work and internships
Students are advised to consult their nearest Chinese Embassy or Consulate for up-to-date information regarding work rights for students.
There are a number of private US and British companies that can organise internships programs in China:
Some Chinese universities can also assist find internships opportunities for Australian students who are moving from study to employment.
While it is relatively easy to afford a very comfortable standard of living in China, costs and expenses vary from city to city. In the university district of Beijing, students should expect to get by on around less than AUS$1,000 per month (not including tuition fees). City Weekend, a publication that is offered in most major cities, and which is popular with expats and travellers around the world, offers easy-to-access online editions for Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. The magazine lists events, venues, restaurants, and also discusses aspects of living in each city (including costs and how to save money).
Tuition fees in China tend to be relatively cheap when compared to those charged by European, North American, or Japanese institutions. There are opportunities for tuition fee exemptions/reductions and for scholarships aimed at international students.
Chinese banks are open seven days a week, and many automatic teller machines (ATMs), which can be found in shopping malls and hotels frequented by foreigners, will accept Australian credit and debit cards. In major cities, Chinese bank cards and credit cards are often accepted at larger restaurants and shopping malls. However, in other restaurants and in second and third tier cities it is best to carry cash. The Bank of China is able to exchange almost any currency and remit money to Australia. For more information about exchanging money in China, please visit the Bank of China Global Website. Western Union is one option for students to receive or remit money abroad.
Scholarships and support
See Money matters for general information about scholarships and support. The Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) offers a range of Chinese Government scholarships and provides information on scholarships offered by local governments and universities. The CSC serves to provide assistance to both Chinese citizens wishing to study abroad and to the foreign citizens wishing to study in China. The CSC website also provides a list of higher education institutes which provide Chinese Government scholarship programs.
Visas and insurance
Visas and entry
It is best to seek advice directly from the Chinese Embassy/Consulate Generals in Australia to determine the most suitable visa category (eg student visa, business visa etc). Chinese partner universities can provide relevant documents as part of the visa process. It is difficult to move from being a full-time student to employment unless you already have work experience, making visas for internships difficult.
Healthcare and insurance
According to Chinese law, overseas students who plan to study for more than six months in China are required to buy Group Integrated Insurance as one of the registration procedures, no matter whether they have bought personal insurance in their home country or not. The cost of this may vary among learning institutions, but should cost approximately AUS$150 to AUS$200 per annum. For more information please consult the education provider you intend to study with. For an easy to access list of links to provider’s websites, see Study in China.
Accommodation and transport
Foreign students often live in on-campus accommodation at a student dormitory. The quality of this accommodation can vary between universities. Other students choose to stay in a hostel when they first arrive and search for shared accommodation once in country. The China Study Abroad and China's University and College Admission System website provide further information.
Public transport is well developed in China and most large cities have a light-rail line and a good bus system. Bicycling is convenient in most cities and taxi prices are set by meter with a flat fall of around one to two Australian dollars. China’s railway systems are also well developed for travelling between most cities and provinces. Traveling in China on its national (or local) holidays can be difficult. Plan your trip so you know what to expect. While holidays may be the same from year to year entire holiday period can shift.