For several decades, students around the world looking to decorate their academic credentials with a definitive seal of approval have looked to the West and its universities. Names like Harvard, Yale and MIT have continued to stir up the imagination of millions of young minds hoping to acquire academic qualifications that give wings to their ambitions. Ask any student planning to head abroad for higher education and he or she will name US and British universities at the top of their list. However, it might be time to rethink priorities as our neighbourhood is teeming with educational powerhouses that are giving British and American behemoths a run for their money.
Chinese universities are increasingly becoming the places to be at and here are 10 reasons why you should rest the plan for West and consider an oriental academic sojourn instead.
Top Class Varsities
Despite the inferior quality Pakistanis have learned to associate Chinese products with, the global economic giant is becoming a favourite destination for international students thanks to its world-class universities. In the latest (2018) ranking of top universities by Time Higher Education (THE), China had 63 universities among the top 1,000 higher education institutes in the world. Moreover it had two varsities, Peking and Tsinghua, in the top 30 universities of the world, at 27th and 30th, respectively. In another prestigious QS Rankings for 2018, six Chinese universities featured in the top 100 universities of the world, while it had a total of 39 varsities in the top 1,000. According to ICEF Monitor, there were 442,773 international students in China in 2016, an increase of 11% from the previous year. The sizable increase student number at a time when western universities are struggling to maintain prior enrolments rightly depicts the allure and quality of universities in China.
Employability of university students is a major factor that adds to the prestige of a university and Chinese universities have been consistently climbing employability rankings left, right and centre. In the Global University Employability Ranking 2017 released by THE last month, Chinese university featured prominently high on the 150-strong list, with the 14th ranked Peking University even outgunning the likes of Oxford, Imperial College, McGill and UC Berkley. The ranking was based on feedback from top employers in 22 countries, with China claiming 7 of the 150 spots. Chinese varsities also had prominent positions in QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2018, with five Chinese institutions managing a place in the top 50 in the world. With Chinese varsities on a consistent move up the employability rankings, graduates of Chinese universities are becoming most sought after talent for employers.
Education in English
One of the key reason western universities remained head and shoulders above their global peers was their medium of instruction. Although Chinese universities and others in leading developed countries like Germany, France and Japan have been around for decades, their appeal to international students remained limited due to the language barrier that students faced while studying for courses in local languages. But more and more universities have realised the advantage of English and increasingly offering programmes in English, the lingua franca of the world. This has enabled hundreds of thousands of international students from across the world to head to China to further their quest for knowledge. And so should Pakistani students.
Investment in Education
Not many in Pakistan know that China has its own Ivy League of sorts, called the C9 League. It’s an alliance of nine elite Chinese universities that are collaborating to make Chinese education among the best in the world. But China is looking for something bigger and investing billions of yuans into its higher education system to become a global leader in education. The Chinese government is currently supporting the Double First Class Project, through which it plans to increase the number of globally high-ranked universities in China by 2050. The programme is already funding 42 universities, meaning the selected institutions are well on their way to becoming hubs of cutting edge research and technology, innovation and development in every discipline of study. What an exciting time to be at a Chinese university.
Studying in top universities in the US, like Yale and Harvard, can cost up to $50,000 a year for undergraduate studies. According to American College Board, the average annual fee for four year private colleges in the US was $45,370 in 2016-17. Even with some financial assistance, the cost is mightily high for the average Pakistani student looking to study in the US. Contrarily, top universities in China, which are also rapidly being counted among the top universities in the world, cost a fraction, but without any compromise on quality of education on offer. Studying at Peking University, the top university in China and 27th in the world, for example, costs an average of $17,000 a year. Tsinghua University, on the other hand, charges an average fee of $7,500 a year. Some saving that is!
China is planning to have a t least 500,000 international students in its universities by 2020 and by the look of things, the target appears overly achievable. But in order to give western universities a real run for their money and to rake in an even greater share of international students, China is offering a host of scholarships to international students. This has made the pull of Chinese universities even greater. Some of the noted scholarships on offer include Chinese Scholarships-Great Wall Program, CAS-TWAS President’s PhD Fellowship Program, Chinese Government Scholarships, Tsinghua University Doctoral Scholarship and Peking University Academic Excellence Scholarships.
The Chinese government has offered some sort of financial assistance to at least 40 percent of all international students new to China in recent years. Besides, the Chinese government is also working closely with Higher Education Commission of Pakistan to offer various scholarships exclusively to Pakistani students. We think the bountiful scholarships are enough impetus for Pakistani students to put Chinese universities at the top of their application list.
One in every six people on this planet speaks Chinese language, making it the most spoken language in the world. So whether you realise it or not, learning to speak Chinese or Mandarin might actually come in handy someday. Many experts agree that learning a language is best achieved through immersion. So irrespective of your medium of study, you will certainly learn to have conversations in Chinese language as you interact with the local population in and around the university. Your ability to speak Chinese will not only add a unique aspect to your CV, it will also help you land a highly marketable language skill that is high in demand in the global workforce. Besides, command over Chinese language is becoming highly important at home as well, as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor opens up greater opportunities of bilateral trade, cooperation and interaction between people of China and Pakistan.
Experience A True Global Business Hub
China is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to economic, trade, manufacturing and commercial might. It’s among the fastest growing economies in the world and has solutions to many of the world’s business problems. The entire country is a melting pot of leading investors, business leaders, corporations and industrial giants, and the collective knowledge, experience, wisdom and acumen one can amass from exposure to this bustling economic landscape is without doubt unmatched in the world. China has also become a key hub of innovation and inventiveness, and on-the-round exposure to such rapid developments in all business sectors provides lessons that are hard to come by in other parts of the world.
Forge Fruitful Relations
With an ever growing international student population, studying in China could offer opportunities to meet young people who go on to become influential individuals in their respective fields in the years ahead. Besides, China has become a hub and headquarters for many of leading business organisations in the world, meaning you can rub shoulders with some of the brightest minds in the world as you study in China. Success these days has a lot to do with networking, so forging global relations could do wonders for your career, whether you plan on becoming a professional employee or starting your own thing.
It’s Close To Home
Another major benefit of studying in China is that you will always be closer to home. While a return ticket to the US could set one back an upwards of Rs 125,000, the fare for travelling to and from China are much cheaper. Plus if you dare so, you can undertake an epic 3,800 km road journey across Pakistan’s north, through the Khunjerab Pass and then across the heart of China to get to your university, say, in Beijing. We are certain this is one adventure studying in the west can in no way offer.