Many international students chose China for their studies abroad. But why? Well, China has been investing a lot in education over the last years and has developed partnerships with universities from the UK and US.
Chinese universities offer quality education and have high-standard facilities. That’s why, over 100 higher education institutions are currently present in top rankings created by Times Higher Education and TopUniversities.
But how expensive is it to live and study in China? Below, we’ll talk about average expenses, like tuition fees and living costs. We want to give you a general idea regarding what kind of budget you’ll need to study in the 4th largest country in the world.
1. Tuition fees in Chinese universities
Tuition fees in public universities
The average tuition fees in Chinese public universities range between 2,500 and 10,000 USD/academic year. You can also find several programmes with no tuition fees. These are usually offered by universities from other countries (e.g. the UK, Germany, Denmark), which have campuses in China.
Tuition fees in private universities
Private universities usually have higher tuition. While most courses cost under 30,000 USD/year, for some MBA programmes you can pay over 40,000 USD/year.
Costs can be even higher in private institutions from other countries. For example, the New York University (NYU) Shanghai, established in collaboration with the East China Normal University of Shanghai, has tuition fees of over 50,000 USD/year.
Most affordable Chinese universities
We’ve listed here some Chinese universities with the most affordable tuition fees:
- Ningbo University – tuition between 2,600 and 4,700 USD/year
- Northwestern Polytechnical University – tuition between 2,900 and 4,350 USD/year
- Liaoning University of Technology – tuition between 2,200 and 3,760 USD/year
- Beijing Normal University – tuition between 3,470 and 4,670 USD/year
Universities we recommend in China
- Zhejiang University
- Suzhou Centennial College
- Beijing Normal University – Hong Kong Baptist University United International College
Check out the best universities in China according to global rankings.
2. Living costs in China for international students
Average living costs in Chinese cities:
- Beijing is one of the most expensive cities and you will need between 1,000 and 1,200 USD/month to cover your expenses.
- Shanghai and Shenzhen are the second most expensive cities, where you’ll spend between 850 and 1,200 USD/month.
In all the other Chinese cities, you could manage with 600 – 1,000 USD/month. This sum can also include accommodation if you live in a residence hall.
Keep in mind that living costs vary massively across China. Factors like tuition fees, the prestige and type of the university, the size of the city, and your spending habits can raise or lower your expenses significantly.
Although Shanghai and Beijing are known worldwide as some of the most expensive cities to live in, you can find several affordable options for housing in these metropolitan cities. Rates are even lower in places like Tianjin, Jiangsu or Sichuan.
The most common accommodation options in China are:
- Student residence halls – prices range between 150 and 400 USD/month.
- Renting a flat – expect to pay between 300 and 1,000 USD/month for a one-bedroom apartment (depending on the city, the location of the apartment and the included facilities).
- Living with a Chinese family– between 350 and 550 USD/month.
Living with a room-mate, whether in a student residence or in an apartment is the most affordable and the most common option among international students. All accommodation (mainly student residences and apartments) require a security deposit of 300 - 460 USD. Utility bills also add around 50 USD/month to your expenses.
Costs of food
Apart from being a great study abroad destination, China is also famous for its diverse, interesting, and very affordable cuisine.
A meal at the university canteen, a small local restaurant or a fast food chain should costs between 1 and 4 USD. Mid-range dining options (prices between 4 and 7 USD) include both Chinese and international dishes.
If you buy food from the local supermarkets, you’ll spend around 170 – 200 USD/month. You can find international chain supermarkets like Walmart, Carrefour, Auchan or Metro. If you want to save money, you should try to cook at home. Also, buy fruit and vegetables from the fresh markets and you can get a big shopping bag full of fruits with only 2 – 3 USD.
China has excellent public transport at very low prices and even taxi rides are quite cheap. Here is a general list of prices for public transportation:
- Metro ride: 0.5 USD
- Taxi rate per km: 0.33 USD
- 20-min taxi ride across town: 4 USD
- City bus: 0.3 USD
A student transit pass for public transportation costs around 15 - 20 USD/month.
- Books and study materials: 30 – 50 USD/semester; you could pay more if you study Sciences, Medicine or Art.
- Medical insurance: around 60 USD for six months.
You can also use the Numbeo website to check out other prices and costs in China.
3. Scholarships for international students
In order to attract more international students, the Chinese government has created a scholarship programme, providing full or partial funding for tuition fees for both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Other scholarships are offered by individual Chinese universities. You can explore the full list of scholarships on the official CUCAS website.
You can also check out the Studyportals Scholarship to get some help on financing your studies abroad.
Studying and living in China enables you to explore a fascinating culture and learn the Chinese language. Universities offer many Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees taught in English and a great study environment, where you can develop both personally and professionally.
Top students can always decide to stay there and continue their studies or develop successful careers. If you’re considering China as your next study destination, we encourage you to go ahead and follow your dream. Best of luck and make the most out of it!