With around 1.34 billion inhabitants, China is the most populous country on earth. More than 90% of the Chinese live east of the so-called Heihe-Tengchong Line, which fictitiously divides the state diagonally about halfway from northeast to southwest. Studying in China – that means getting involved in a country of extremes.
China – the land of extremes
According to allcountrylist, China is a country of extremes. It covers an area of just under 9.6 million square kilometers, which is roughly the size of the United States of America. In addition, China has both the longest national border and most of the border countries in the world.
It is also bounded by numerous natural barriers: in the east there are the Yellow, East China and South China Seas, in the southwest the Himalayas and the Tibetan highlands and in the north the Mongolian highlands. Overall, China is 70% covered by mountains and plateaus. Otherwise it consists mostly of grass and arable desert.
Due to the huge area, a spectrum from a continental climate in the north and northeast to a (sub) tropical climate in the south is covered. In the extreme altitude regions there is a high mountain climate.
The People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949. The capital and seat of the central government is Beijing, in whose metropolitan area almost 20 million people live. In addition, with Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing there are three other cities directly under the government, five autonomous regions and the two special administrative areas Hong Kong and Macau.
The official Chinese language is standard standard Chinese, also known as Mandarin. Depending on the region, there are also other dialects and languages such as Mongolian, Tibetan and Korean. In larger cities, in addition to Chinese signs, Latin letters and English are to be expected.
The Chinese economy has experienced a strong boom in the past 20 years. The former planned economy increasingly turned into a private sector. Today, China is the world’s largest exporter of raw materials, agricultural goods, textiles and office machines, among others.
University landscape in China
There are more than 2,100 state higher education institutions in China, and their number is steadily increasing. It has even doubled compared to the year 2000. This increase is related to the massive population growth in the country. Around 23 million students were enrolled at Chinese universities in 2008 – an increase of almost 300% compared to the year 2000. The number of university graduates has also almost quintupled during this time.
China’s education policy
The Chinese Ministry of Education is responsible for education policy. It is endeavoring to change the university landscape by means of an educational reform: study programs and entrance examinations are modernized and evaluation bodies are set up to ensure the quality of studies. The existing imbalance between urban and rural educational institutions should also be reduced.
The currently 95 universities of the elite funding project 211, which receive special support and equipment from the state, are directly subordinate to the Ministry of Education. The remaining state universities are administered by other national ministries and authorities or by the provinces and cities.
In addition to state universities, private institutions and commercial institutes are also playing an increasingly important role. Renowned universities from abroad are also increasingly being recruited as partners in order to contribute to the exchange of knowledge and the optimization of research and teaching.
Study in China: Selection Process
Since the 1950s, all graduates of a Chinese school year have been centrally tested by the Gaokao university entrance examination and then assigned to the different types of universities in the country. Only every second applicant gets a place at a Chinese state university under the strict procedure.
The other interested parties only have the option of enrolling at an expensive private university. But many cannot afford this. Many Chinese families go into debt in order to finance such higher education for their offspring. Due to the high number of students and the strict university entrance regulations, many Chinese are drawn to study abroad. In Germany, for example, they make up the largest proportion of foreign students.
Reasons for studying abroad in China
German students are attracted to China for other reasons: Many of them want to participate in the Chinese economic boom and get to know important cooperation partners of the future. China is one of the most important global economic and financial markets and the Asian continent is gaining more and more international weight. The insights into Asian culture and the better understanding of the country and its people gained while studying in China should not be underestimated for later professional practice.
In addition, the Chinese universities are increasingly opening up to foreigners and are entering into appropriate cooperation programs. In total, students from more than 170 countries come to China. In 2010 there were 265,000 people, over 4,800 of whom came from Germany. They love subjects such as Sinology, Business Chinese, Chinese Culture and Medicine, Management, and Law and Finance. More and more students now want to do a semester abroad or full-time study in the People’s Republic, whereas in the past they tended to travel to the country for a university language course.
Study in China in English?
Most state universities currently teach exclusively in Chinese. For students who would like to spend a semester abroad in China, some Chinese universities offer courses in English that have been specially created for them.