International students should find increasing levels of investment in tertiary education to be a compelling reason to study in Mainland China.
In 2012, China reached its target of spending 4 percent of GDP on education, while the number of colleges and universities has doubled in the last decade, now standing at around 2,900. The country’s current five-year plan, which extends to 2020, focuses on modernizing and strengthening its higher education system, with key initiatives such as Project 211, which aims to bring 100 Chinese universities up to a world-class standard, and Project 985, which aims to create an even more elite group of universities. Project 985 has resulted in the creation of the C9 league, which has ambitions of becoming something like the US Ivy League.
Want to be one of the many international students heading to China every year? Read on to find out more.
Universities in China
Mainland China has 40 institutions ranked in the QS World University Rankings® 2021, including six in the global top 100, with 60 more top universities in China included in the new QS Mainland China Rankings.
With the latest figures showing that nearly 490,000 international students were enrolled in Mainland Chinese universities in 2017 (10 percent more than in 2016), China seems certain of meeting its target of hosting 500,000 foreign students by 2020. Leading sending countries include South Korea, Thailand, Pakistan, the United States, India, Russia, Japan and Indonesia.
These improved numbers are likely partly thanks to the Chinese government’s boosted scholarship scheme, with nearly 59,000 foreign students receiving a scholarship in 2017. (For a selection of these scholarship opportunities, see this article.) Another powerful draw for international students is the increasing number of English-taught programs, with the number available increasing by 63 percent in the last five years.
Find out more about the top three universities on the Chinese mainland:
China’s third-best university according to the both the World University Rankings (for which it’s ranked 34th) and the Mainland China Rankings, Fudan University is spread across four campuses in Shanghai, one of the nation’s largest hubs of finance and trade. Another member of the C9 league and also currently ranked sixth in Asia, Fudan University has a current enrollment of just under 32,000 students and is known as one of China’s most selective schools.
Featured among the world’s top universities in 30 subjects in 2018, Fudan University performs best for modern languages, chemistry, business & management, materials sciences and politics, for which it ranks among the top 50 worldwide.
A consistent contender among the top universities in China, Peking University is a prestigious research university belonging to China’s C9 League. Established in 1898 and located in Beijing, Peking University admits a high number of international students every year and has maintained a partnership with Germany’s Freie Universität Berlin since 1981. As well as its leading academic offering, Peking University’s campus grounds are loved for their traditional Chinese architecture.
Peking University is ranked 23rd in the world and second in China and also ranks among the world’s best in many of the 48 subjects covered by the subject rankings, achieving top 20 positions for chemistry, dentistry, modern languages, linguistics, materials sciences and more.
- The world’s largest national population, more than 1.4 billion people – 20 percent of the Earth’s entire population
- More than 90 percent of the population live in the eastern third of Mainland China
- Full official name is the People’s Republic of China
- Capital city is Beijing, largest city is Shanghai
- Main language is Mandarin Chinese, which has more native speakers than any other language
- Total amount needed for living costs per year: at least US$12,000
- Average annual tuition fees: US$2,000-4,000
- The world’s fastest growing and second largest economy, after overtaking Japan in 2011
- Fourth-largest country by area (after Russia, Canada and the US)
- The only country other than Russia and US to have launched a manned space flight; government has set target of establishing a space station by 2020
- Under Communist rule since 1949
- China is the world’s biggest sender of international students, with 700,000 students studying abroad.
- Very diverse climate – from tropical in the south to subarctic in the northeast