Maybe you have friends or relatives already studied in China before, maybe you heard some stories about study in China, and you also want to study in China.
If you are interested in studying in the country, one of the most important things to consider is how much everything is going to cost. This essential guide breaks down the cost of every aspect of university life to ensure that you have everything covered.
Note that prices and exchange rates are correct at the time of publication and may vary from those shown here. Some prices have been rounded up or down.
(As today, August, 2021, the exchange rate is 1 usd = 6.5 yuan)
The fees can be divided into: tuition fees, hostel fees, other fees at school, living fees.
Per our experience, the total fees of study in China is about 15,000 to 120,000 yuan per year.
Compared with the UK or US, studying in China costs far less although it is still considerably more expensive than some European countries. Depending on the institution and the subject, students can expect to pay between 8,000 to 30,000 yuan per academic year. However, programs in medicine, engineering and business cost more, averaging 20,500 to 550,000 yuan per year.
As well as private Chinese universities, there is also the opportunity to study at American or British universities with a campus in a Chinese city, such as the Chinese campuses of the universities of Nottingham, Leicester and Lancaster. Tuition fees at such institutions are 55,000 to 160,000 yuan a year, with the average bachelor’s degree at 80,000 yuan and the average master’s degree at 90,000 yuan a year.
There is typically an application fee for Chinese universities, which is between 400 and 1000 yuan, but it never goes over about 1,000 yuan. Among all the programs offered by Chinese institutions, the bachelor of medicine and the bachelor of surgery have the most expensive application fees. The higher the university is ranked in China’s league tables, the more expensive the application fee.
Peking University – one of China’s top-ranked universities – charges an average application fee of 1,000 yuan. Tuition fees are 24,000 yuan per year. As a Chinese undergraduate degree takes four years to complete, a student at Peking should expect to spend 96,000 yuan in total on tuition.
The most common housing options in China are student residence halls (1000 to 2,655 yuan per month), renting a flat (1,660 to 6,637 yuan for a one-bedroom apartment), a home stay with a Chinese family (2,320 to 3,650 yuan a month, often including at least one meal a day) or a hostel, which is typically only a temporary arrangement (119 yuan a night).
Students will most likely live with a room-mate in a student residence or an apartment, paying 1,990 to 3,053 yuan for a security deposit and 331 yuan a month for water, gas and electricity bills. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in a city in China is on average 3,520 yuan a month.
Although cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are some of the most expensive in the world, it is possible to find good value options for housing. Rates are far lower in places such as Jiangsu, Sichuan and Tianjin.
Other essential student costs
If you are planning to study in China for more than six months, you are required by the Chinese government to have a medical examination, which you should arrange before you leave your home country. You will be asked to present your medical examination record when applying for a Chinese student visa.
All foreign students should apply for either a student visa, if you are intending to stay for more than six months (X1 Visa), or a business visa, if you are intending to stay for less than six months (X2 Visa).
Per semester, students should expect to spend 200 to 330 yuan on books and course materials. China operates on a two-semester system, so expect to spend 400 to 665 yuan a year. This sum will be considerably more if you choose to study sciences, medicine or art.
The average monthly internet bill is 96 yuan (split between tenants) and a mobile phone plan is 100 yuan a month.
Public transport in China is great value including taxi rides. A single metro journey costs 3.32 yuan, a bus trip in a city is 2 yuan, while a full student transport pass costs 100 yuan a month. You should expect to pay 26 yuan for a 20-minute taxi ride across town. A litre of petrol costs 6.15 yuan.
A student at Peking University will spend an average of 38,233 yuan on their first year at university, including the application fee, visa fee, tuition fees and living expenses. They would therefore graduate having spent 152,932 yuan on their university education in China.
In 2021, a meal in a restaurant in China cost on average 50 yuan, with a beer costing 6 yuan and an average bottle of wine 80 yuan.
A cinema ticket costs 50 yuan, a monthly gym membership 253 yuan and a Big Mac 20 yuan, while a weekly shop is 330 yuan or 1,327 yuan a month, and there are plenty of international supermarket chains such as Walmart, Carrefour, Auchan or Metro. Buying fruit and vegetables from local markets is good value, with a large bag averaging 13 yuan.
What financial support is available?
The Chinese government has introduced a series of scholarship schemes to encourage international students to study and conduct research at Chinese higher education institutions. Among them is the Chinese Government Scholarship Programs for European Union and non-EU students (including full and partial funding), the Study in Asia Scholarship Scheme and the China/AUN Scholarships, for students from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
There are also plenty of organizations that are willing to financially back students who wish to study in China and programs include the British Council China Scholarships, the Critical Language Scholarship Program and the China Scholarship Council.
Student discounts vary depending on the area, but investing in an International Student Identity Card will give you discounts at museums, galleries, shops and cafes. Some domestic flights are discounted for students as well.