Higher Education in China



The People’s Republic of China is situated in the eastern hemisphere of the earth, on the east of Asian continent and west of Pacific Ocean. It faces the ocean, comprising both inland and coastal regions. It stretches for about 5,500 km from north to south and 5,250 km from east to west with an area of 9.60 million square kilometers. It occupies about one quarter of the surface area of Asia and is the third largest country in terms of area, after Russia and Canada.

Most regions in China are located in the northern temperate zone with mild weather and distinct four seasons, suitable for human inhabitation and living. The continental seasonal monsoons are the main characteristics of climate in China. Every year, from September to April the subsequent year, cold and dry winter monsoons from Siberia and Mongolian highlands bring cold and arid air, creating a wide range in temperature between the south and the north. From April to September, the warm and moist summer monsoons from the ocean bring abundant rainfall and high temperature, resulting in little difference in temperature between the south and the north.

The nation can be sectored from south to north into six different zones: equatorial, tropical, sub-tropical, warm-temperate, temperate, and cold-temperate zones. Rainfall decreases from southeast to northwest. Average rainfall varies greatly across China. It reaches 1,500 mm along the south-eastern coastline and is below 200 mm in the hinterland of the northwest.

According to National Bureau of Statistics of China, as at 21st April 2016, the population of People’s Republic of China reached 1,376,073,129 and is the country with the largest population in the world, with a multiracial composition consisting of 56 ethnic groups, the most populous being the Han.

There are 2,429 universities in China, with 560 of them having complied with the strict requirements and gained approval to recruit foreign students by the Ministry of Education of China. Whether it is in teaching, faculty, facilities or research capabilities, these universities have reached a certain standard. Currently, there are almost 400,000 international students from 202 territories studying in China, among which about 7,000 of them come from Malaysia. China ranks third globally in the number of international students, after the US and the UK.

In recent years, the Chinese government has placed education as priority area of development and has launched the ‘Science Education for National Progress’ strategic plan to continuously transform the education system. To enhance the global development of China, the Ministry of Education of China implements the “211 Project” to develop 100 world class universities in the 21st Century. Research and development in Science and technology have been an important force in scientific development and in propelling the economic development. As at 2011, more than 103 national strategic laboratories have been established by higher education institutions to play an important role in scientific research development in China.

Education is also one of the priorities under the ‘Belt And Road’ framework, with emphasis on nurturing and attracting talents. The Chinese government plans to bring 2,500 young scientists to China in the next five years for short-term scientific work, in addition to providing training to 5,000 foreigners in science, technology and management. Prior to this, China had already provided 10,000 scholarships in various disciplines at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels to developing countries along the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative. ( Refer to: https://sciencecareer.asia/category/scholarships/ ).

At the recent ‘Belt And Road’ Summit, President Xi Jinping of China emphasised innovation as the key to progress. Under the ‘Belt And Road’ Initiative, China is seeking co-operation in various scientific fields including artificial intelligence, quantum computer, smart cities and others and is scheduled to launch the ‘Belt And Road’ Science and Technology Innovation Action Plan with the construction of 50 laboratory alliances. In 2016, the Chinese Academy of Science launched the ‘Belt And Road’ International Co-operation in Science and Technology Action Plan to create a science, technology and innovation community among the countries along the ‘Belt And Road’ initiative. It is envisaged to conduct strategic consultancy, talent development and scientific co-operation and commercialisation. Presently, the Chinese Academy of Science has set up a centre in Bangkok to bring the fruits of the Academy to South East Asia for commercialisation.

In recent year, Chinese institutions of higher education have successively ventured overseas and set up branch campuses –  Suzhou University in Laos, Xiamen University in Malaysia, Peking University in Oxford, Tongji University in Florence. China plans to forge more educational co-operation and mutual recognition of qualifications with countries along the ‘Belt And Road’ initiative. Such co-operation will also be extended to qualified Chinese corporations to enable them to venture in education in countries along the ‘Belt And Road’ initiative. In addition, foreign institutions with quality higher education resources are encouraged to establish themselves in China. Such examples include Nottingham University in Ningbo, New York University in Shanghai, Duke University in Kunshan, Israel Institute of Technology in Guangdong and etc.


Education in China comprises 6 years of primary education, 3 years of  junior middle ( known as the nine-year compulsory education funded by the government ), 3 years of senior middle, 4 years of Bachelor’s degree with medical degree course lasting 5-7 years, 2-3 years of Master’s degree and 3-4 years of Doctorate degree.  An academic year comprises 2 semesters – the first begins in September and the second in mid-February. A semester lasts for about 40 weeks and lessons are conducted on a 5-day week.

Courses opened to foreign students include Arts, Science, Engineering, Business, Agriculture, Art, etc. Chinese language, Literature, History, Chinese Medicine, Electronics, Engineering, Clinical Medicine and Art are some of the popular courses among foreign students.

Teaching at Chinese universities involves lectures, classroom discussions, practical lessons, tutorials and guidance sessions. Universities incorporate physical lessons, visitations, practical and social survey into the education system to enhance the outcome of classroom teaching, practical work capacity and application of knowledge.


Courses recognized by the Malaysian government and professional bodies include:


Discipline Recognition Body Universities
Medicine Malaysian Government

Malaysian Medical Council

Fudan University,

Shanghai Jiaotong University

Chinese Medicine Malaysian Government

Malaysian Medical Council

Beijing University of Chinese Medicine

Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine

Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine

Chinese Studies Malaysian Government Peking University

Tsinghua University

Chinese as a Foreign Language Malaysian Government


Beijing Language & Culture University

Beijing Foreign Studies University



Academic Requirements

The admission requirements of Malaysian students for undergraduate studies are as follows:.

  • STPM or GCE ‘A’ level or equivalent, at least 2 B’s,1 C & 1 D, or
  • Unified Examination Certificate with aggregate of 20-25 for Chinese Language, English Language, Mathematics and 2 related subjects.
  • Students with SPM or GCE `O’ level can only gain admission into pre-university studies.

Universities offering pre-university study and the nature of their courses are as follows:

  • Jinan University ( Multi-discipline )
  • Huaqiao University ( Multi-discipline )
  • Tianjin University ( Engineering )
  • Shanghai University of Finance and Economics ( Multi-discipline )
  • China Central Academy of Fine Arts  (Art )
  • Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine ( Chinese Medicine )
  • Beijing University of Chinese Medicine ( Chinese Medicine )
  • Beihang University ( Science & Technology )
  • South China University of Technology ( Science & Technology )
  • Shanghai Normal University ( Education )

Chinese Language Requirements

Applicants are required to show proof of proficiency in Chinese language. Generally, a score of 4-6 in the Chinese Proficiency Test, HSK is required. Applicants with 6 years of secondary education where medium of instruction is Chinese ( Malaysian Independent Chinese Secondary Schools ) will be exempted from the test. In Malaysia, HSK Test is conducted by Kongzi Institute for the Teaching of Chinese Language at Universiti Malaya and a number of private universities/colleges/education associations in East and West Malaysia. More information can be obtained at http://www.chinesetest.cn/gokdinfo.do

Undergraduate study is conducted in Chinese in China. A number of higher education institutions conduct some postgraduate programs in English. In such cases, students are not required to take the Chinese Proficiency Test.


Tuition Fees

Tuition Fees for international students vary according to the fields of study and location and may increase from year to year. Below are the estimate annual tuition fees of undergraduate studies for international students:

Field of Study Annual TuitionRenminbi/RM
Pre-university Study 7,600-13,800/3800-6900
Arts 14,000-26,000/6,460-12,160
Science/Engineering/Agriculture 15,400-33,800/6,840-15,580
Medicine/Physical Science/Art & Design 21,000-52,000/9,690-23,940


Living Expenses

Living expenses include food and accommodation, learning materials and daily expenses. Below are the monthly expenses:

Item Monthly ExpensesRenminbi/RM
Accommodation International Student Apartment:720/360

Local Student Apartment:100/50

Food International Student Cafetaria:350-500/162-230

Local Student Cafetaria:300/140

Learning Materials 240-400/110-190



Cafeteria and hostel facilities are available at all universities accepting international students. A room generally accommodates 2 students with public bathrooms and toilets.


Application for admission is administered by the respective universities. Students can visit their respective websites and make enquiries at the Office of Registrar. Other source of useful information includes websites of the Ministry of Education of China ( http://www.moe.gov.cn/ ).

Some reputable universities also require students to sit for an admission test in China.

Admission deadline varies by university. Generally, application is opened from the 15th of February to 25th of March and 15th of April to 15th May. For top universities like Peking University, Fudan University, Shanghai Jiaotong University and Shanghai Conservatory of Music, admission period is from 15th December to 25th January the next year.

There are a number of Chinese higher education fairs being held annually in Malaysia. Some Chinese institutions of higher learning also participate in major local higher education fairs.


International students are required to apply for a student visa before pursuing higher education in China. Students need to be accepted by a Chinese higher education institution prior to application for visa. Documents required for the application include visa application form, passport ( valid for 6 months and above ), letter of acceptance by higher education institution in English and Chinese ( original and photocopy ) , visa application for study in China form (JW202 Form) (original and photocopy). Application can be made in person at Chinese Visa Application Service Centre in Kuala Lumpur or Chinese Consulate in Kuching.

Student visa applications can be made 1-3 months prior to departure.


Due to the robust growth of China in recent years, the Chinese government and many Chinese universities have offered scholarships for undergraduate, postgraduate and Chinese language studies in China. Further information can be obtained from the China Embassy in Malaysia web portal and the Scholarship Column of this web portal ( https://sciencecareer.asia/category/scholarships/ ).


Under the Chinese laws, students enrolled at higher education institutions are not permitted to work in China. As such, students are advised to have adequate expenses to cover tuition, accommodation and living expenses in China.


Universities accepting international students are well equipped with hostels, cafeterias, libraries and information centres and other facilities, with modern teaching aids and teaching methods to provide conducive study and research environment for the students.


Ministry of Education, People’s Republic of China

Chinese Language Tests

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Malaysia
229 Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel:      +603-21416093 (Culture and Education)
Fax:     +603-21429368 (Culture and Education)
Web:    http://my.china-embassy.org/eng/ 

Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Kuching
2nd Floor,Wisma Naim
21/2 Mile, Rock Road,
93200 Kuching,
Tel:      +6082-259885
Fax:     +6082-256885
Email: kuchingcenter@visaforchina.org
Chinese Visa Application Service Center
Level 5 & 6, Hampshire Place Office,
Jalan Mayang Sari,
50450 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel:   +603-2176 0888
Fax:  +603-2161 2234
Web: http://www.visaforchina.org


Written by:
Ms Wee Hui Bieh, AFMSA, Aug. 2017

Information source:
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Malaysia
United Chinese Schools’ Committees of Malaysia
The Association of Graduates from Universities & Colleges of China, Malaysia


Copyright@2017 Science Career Asia PLT, All rights reserved

This post is also available in: zh-hans简体中文 (Chinese (Simplified))