Colossal, dizzying and fiercely, endlessly foreign, China is a destination not easily compared to anywhere else on the planet. Home to approximately one fifth of the human race, China variously dazzles, befuddles, frustrates and thrills. The key visitor attractions are renowned around the globe – think the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Terracotta Warriors – but on the ground it’s the sheer scale and off-kilter energy of the place that leave the most lasting impression.

The rampant economic drive of the last decade means many of China’s cities are as shaped by modernity as anywhere you care to mention, but it’s also somewhere underpinned by dearly held traditions and an almost unfathomable amount of diversity. China's landscapes unfurl dramatically across the map, its customs are as fascinating as they are numerous, and its sights, sounds and infinite oddities altogether amount to one of the world’s truly great travel experiences.

The pace of modernization in its key cities – Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou and increasingly others – have thrown up skylines to rival any global city in the world. The skyscrapers of these cities are emblematic of the ‘new’ China – a modern powerhouse both economically and politically, and the eager to make the rest of the world sit up and take notice. China’s cities hum with an energy and pace so quick that even the metropolis-hardened of visitors will feel it. The flipside to this – levels of smog and pollution so severe you’ll feel like you’re walking through a cloud, and the indiscriminate pulling down of ancient architecture to make way for shiny new buildings, seem to be the unfortunate consequences of progress.

Being an international student in China is an unforgettable and immensely rewarding experience. Not only will you be able to witness firsthand China's historic transformation from an underdeveloped country into a major global power, but you'll meet people from all over the world too. Many international students take advantage of the two long holidays in an academic year (each lasting one to two months) to travel around China and Asia.

For most people, homesickness is an unavoidable part of living abroad, but you'll almost certainly find that the benefits vastly outweigh the costs, and like many foreigners before you, you may well end up looking for excuses to stay in China!


Private car ownership in China is a relatively recent phenomenon. This means it's extremely easy to get around in China without a car. China has one of the world's most well-developed railway systems, making it both convenient and affordable to travel around this vast and fascinating country. Urban public transport systems are also efficient, modern, and, in most cities, vastly superior to those in Western metropolises. The only downside is, with so many people, it's not always easy to get a seat!

Cost of Transportation in Major Cities






About 30 US cents

About 40-120 US cents

About 40-120 US cents


10-20 US cents

About 30 US cents

About 20-40 US cents


About 30 US cents per kilometer

About 40 US cents per kilometer

About 40 US cents per kilometer


Mandarin, or Putonghua, is the official language of China, and is spoken throughout the country. Most Chinese people also speak the local dialect of their hometown. Standard Mandarin is based on the Beijing dialect, but this doesn't mean that you won't learn to speak “proper” Chinese if you study in another part of the county. Your Chinese teacher will certainly speak standard Mandarin (a prerequisite for teaching foreign students) and Beijing locals speak with just as strong an accent as the locals anywhere else.



Eating out in China is very affordable. A meal at the university canteen, a small local restaurant or a fast food chain typically costs between 5-25RMB (roughly US$1-4). Mid-range dining options (25-45 RMB, US$4-7) include both Chinese and international cuisine.

Daily Products


Daily products in China are very affordable. All universities have convenience stores inside or nearby , where you can buy your basic necessities.

Usually, a good pair of jeans costs around 20 dollars, while a suit may cost 30 dollars. A pair of socks costs 50 cents, a book bag costs 3 dollars, 5 dollars for a T shirt. .You can buy all the things you need at a very cheap price. Even a new 32-inch LCD TV costs less than 500 US dollars.


What is the accommodation like?

If you’re concerned about living conditions in China, you might well be surprised by the quality of accommodation available. A survey conducted after the Beijing Olympics found that 100% of foreign athletes and officials were satisfied with the food and accommodation.

International students in China can choose to live in the university's hotel or dormitory. You can also live off campus with the permission of your school.



Where to stay in China?


Hotels have sprung up all over urban China, with the big-name international chains all having a presence in Beijing, Shanghai and increasingly Guangzhou and Shenzhen. The alarming pace of openings means there is no shortage of accommodation, even in peak season, with the range spanning everything from the lowest of budgets to blinged out luxury.

The expansion of high-end Far East groups such as the Shangri-La and Mandarin Oriental brands, has helped raise standards to the point where top hotels more than match the quality of other Asian destinations.. The most impressive choice of accommodation is in cities like Shanghai and Beijing – unsurprisingly, costs are usually more expensive too. Star ratings for domestically-run hotels can be somewhat generous Facilities generally include restaurants, coffee shops, bars, swimming pools and massage rooms. Some include executive floors and lounges, spas, shopping and business malls, banks and post offices.


Bed and breakfast: 

Bed and breakfast has grown in popularity as an accommodation option for travellers. These can range from down-at-heel affairs which deliver the basics, to smart quirky alternatives to a more expensive hotels. Often called guest houses, these properties can be found in rural areas as well as cities.


Camping is seen as something of an alien concept in China, and there are precious few places where you could pitch up a tent without attracting adverse attention, from the authorities or otherwise. It becomes more feasible in remote regions, and there are certain wilderness areas where it is possible to secure a permit.

Other accommodation:

If you’re planning on spending considerable time in a particular city, some sort of self-catering rental arrangement – usually in the form of an apartment – is a viable idea, although you may find yourself a long distance from the city centre. Self-catering becomes less practical in areas that don’t draw regular influxes of international visitors.
Good progress has been made in the construction of a network of hostels, covering, in particular, Beijing, Guangdong, Guangxi, Shanghai and Yunnan. China is a huge country, but very few areas of touristic interest are now without a dormitory, hostel or basic guesthouse to cater for the country’s ever-growing backpacker scene. These are found in most tourist centres and provide cheaper accommodation for budget travellers. Standards range from poor to adequate.

 A fast-growing sector tapping into the luxury market, boutique hotels are springing up across China, from city locations to tourist towns and rural settings near major attractions or tourist centres. They range from stylish properties in local architectural style to luxurious havens of tranquillity, some with spas.

Preparing & Uploading Application Documents

If you apply to university through CUCAS, you don't need to post your application documents to the university. You simply need to upload a scanned or photographed copy of the necessary documents after you've filled out the application form. Once you've uploaded documents for one application (e.g. copies of your passport, transcript, graduation certificate), the documents will be saved in the CUCAS system. If you apply for another university, the CUCAS system will automatically retrieve the relevant documents.

Applications for degree programs require more documents than non-degree programs and different universities require different documents. Before you start your application, please check the list of required documents on the program's page.

>>Please note the following information:

Documents you are required to submit: It's best to use a scanner to scan copies of the required documents. If you don't have access to a scanner, you can take a photo. Scanned or photographed documents must be clear and legible.

Graduation certificates and transcripts not in either English or Chinese must be translated into English or Chinese and notarized.

Photo: The photo should be roughly the same size as a passport photo. 48mmX33mm.

>>Other issues you might encounter:

  1. A notarization of guarantor for minors (for applicants under 18 years of age): Any student under 18 is required to submit one. The steps for obtaining a notarization of guarantor for minors is as follows. Step one: the student's parents should write a letter of proxy authorizing an adult in China to act as a guarantor. Once the letter has been notarized the student takes the certificate of notarization to the Chinese embassy to be authenticated. Step two: the guarantor takes the aforementioned authentication certificate and writes a letter confirming that they are entrusted as a guarantor and takes these to the local notary office in China for notarization. The guarantor and student will receive a statement of guarantor for minors. The student should then upload a copy of the statement with his/her application documents. Please note: You must bring the original copies of your application documents when you register at the school.
  2. A notarization of guarantor in China/Guardian's Letter of Guarantee: If the student is 18 or over, this should be completed and signed by the student's parents, and uploaded along with the other application documents. NB Most universities do not actually require that the guarantor be in China. However, others do.
  3. Economic guarantee: A guarantee that the tuition fees will be paid. If the student is self-financed, the person paying the tuition fees must complete and sign this form. If the student has a scholarship, please ask the relevant organization to show proof that the student has won a scholarship and upload the document.
  4. HSK test scores: HSK results prove a student's Chinese proficiency. Applicants for programs taught in English do not need HSK test scores.
  5. IELTS or TOEFL test scores: Applicants for programs taught in English must provide IELTS or TOEFL test scores. Students whose mother tongue is English need not provide test scores. Students who hold a high school diploma or degree taught in English do not need to provide test scores but must provide proof from their school or other proof of their English proficiency, as long as it is verified by the school.
  6. Physical Examination Record: Students DO NOT need to submit a physical examination record with their application to a Chinese university. Rather, you will either need to submit it to the Chinese embassy when you are applying for an X visa or after you arrive in China when you apply for a residence permit. NB Only students applying for an X visa (period of study longer than 6 months) need to undergo a medical exam.
  7. Resume (CV) or personal statement: Some universities require applicants to provide a resume or personal statement. A personal statement should be approx. 500-1000 words in length and describe the your personal qualities, interests, educational background, why you want to study in China, your future academic or career plans, and so on. If you are already working, you should include your work experience. Applicants for post-graduate programs should include their field of research and a study plan.
  8. Letter or Recommendation: Some universities require applicants to provide one or two letters of recommendation as a character reference. The referee can be the student's current or former teacher (including a Chinese teacher), or employer. A letter of recommendation should have the referee's signature. It is suggested that a letter or recommendation include: an assessment of the applicant's study and research abilities, individual character, performance, team spirit, leadership qualities, potential for development and so on.



What is the admission requirement for a non-degree program?

These are the general admission requirements for non-degree Chinese language students.

  • Non-Chinese citizen in good health.
  • 18 years old or above; (If you are under 18 years old, you need to provide a notarization of guarantor in China. Sometimes a diplomatic note presented by your consulate in Beijing may be required.)
  • Hold a valid foreign passport.
  • The equivalent of high school graduate or higher academic degree.
  • A student who has studied in China and wants to transfer to another university must provide the permission from original university.

Note: Some universities do not have age or educational background requirements.


What is the admission requirement for a Bachelor's program?

These are the general admission requirements for undergraduate students.

  • Non-Chinese citizen in good health.
  • 18 years old or above.
  • Hold a valid foreign passport.
  • High school graduation or the equivalent; or higher academic degree.
  • Under normal circumstances, applicants for programs taught in Chinese are required to have passed the Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK) level 3 or above; or pass the university's entrance examination. (For more on the HSK certificate, please see Chinese Proficiency Test).
  • A student who has studied in China and wants to transfer to another university must provide the permission from original university.

NB: For those programs taught in English, applicants should submit recognized English proficiency tests scores such as TOEFL or IELTS. (English native speakers or those holding an academic degree taught in English do not need to provide any test scores.)


What is the admission requirement for a Master's program?

These are the general admission requirements for Master's students.

  • Non-Chinese citizen in good health.
  • 18 years old or above.
  • Hold a valid foreign passport.
  • Under normal circumstances, applicants for programs taught in Chinese are required to have HSK level 4-6 certificate or above; or pass the university's entrance examination.
  • Hold a Bachelor's degree graduate or the equivalent.
  • Provide one or two letters of recommendation from professors.
  • A student who has studied in China and wants to transfer to another university must provide the permission from original university.

NB: For those programs taught in English, applicants should submit recognized English proficiency tests scores such as TOEFL or IELTS. (English native speakers or those holding an academic degree taught in English need not provide test scores.)

What is the admission requirement for a PhD program?

These are the general admission requirements for PhD students.

  • Non-Chinese citizen in good health.
  • 18 years old or above.
  • Hold a valid foreign passport.
  • Master's degree graduate or the equivalent.
  • At least two recommendation letters from professors.
  • Under normal circumstances, applicants are required to have HSK level 5-8 certificate or above; or pass the university's entrance examination. Applicants who do not meet the Chinese language requirement are usually admitted if they successfully complete a one-year full-time Chinese language program as a pre-sessional course.

NB: For those programs taught in English, applicants should submit recognized English proficiency tests scores such as TOEFL or IELTS. (English native speakers or those holding an academic degree taught in English need not provide test scores.)

Is the cost of living in China too high?
Although prices in China are rising, the cost of living here is still favorable compared with most developed countries. You will be amazed by how comfortably you can live and how strong your purchasing power is. Compared to developed countries, the cost of living and studying in China is relatively low. Accommodation in Beijing is roughly RMB 2000-3000 yuan per month. An average meal costs around 30-50 yuan. The subway has a flat rate of 2 yuan and buses within the city are even cheaper. Smaller cities and those in China’s central and western regions are particularly inexpensive.

Cost of Living


In Beijing, China's most expensive city, you can live fairly comfortably off of US$15 a day. Renting an apartment costs around US$250-350 a month and a meal at your local noodle joint won't set you back more than a couple of dollars.

If you're on a tight budget, you'll find that the salary from a part-time teaching job can go a long way in China. Also, unless you have your heart set on living in Beijing or Shanghai, don't overlook China's lesser-known cities where you may only have to pay US$150 a month for a room on campus.


Currency & Money


Currency information: 

1 Renminbi Yuan (CNY; symbol ¥) = 10 jiao/mao or 100 fen. Notes are in denominations of ¥100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 1, 5 jiao and 1 jiao. Coins are in denominations of ¥1, 5 jiao and 1 jiao. Counterfeit ¥50 and ¥100 notes are commonplace. The Yuan is often referred to as the ‘guai’ in street slang.

Credit cards: 

American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted in major provincial cities in designated establishments. Credit cards are often unlikely to be accepted away from the major cities.


ATMs can generally be found in airports, hotels, shopping centres and banks, as well as in many major cities and towns.

Travellers cheques: 

To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars.

Banking hours: 

Mon-Fri 0900-1600/1700. Some banks close for lunch from 1200-1300. Select branches in major cities offer extended hours in the evenings and on weekends.

Currency restriction: 

Imports and exports of local currency are limited to ¥20,000. The import and export of foreign currency is unlimited, but amounts exceeding the equivalent of US$5,000 must be declared.

Currency exchange: 

It is possible to exchange CNY outside China, albeit mainly in Southeast Asia and Hong kong. Foreign banknotes and traveller's cheques can be exchanged at branches of The Bank of China. In hotels for tourists, imported luxury items such as spirits may be bought with Western currency. Scottish and Northern Irish banknotes cannot be exchanged.

China duty free


The following items may be imported into China without incurring customs duty:

  • 400 cigarettes and 100 cigars and 500g of tobacco.
    • 1.5L of alcoholic beverages with 12% or more alcoholic content.
    • Personal articles up to a value of ¥5,000 for Chinese residents.
    • Personal articles which will be left in China up to a value of ¥2,000 for non-residents.

Banned imports: 

Arms and ammunition, imitation arms, narcotics, fruit, animals and animal products, and any publication (print, audio or video) directed against the public order and the morality of China.

Customs officials may seize audio and videotapes, books, records and CDs to check for pornographic, political or religious material. You must complete baggage declaration forms upon arrival noting all valuables (such as cameras, watches and jewellery); this may be checked on departure. You should keep receipts for items such as jewellery, jade, handicrafts, paintings, calligraphy or other similar items in order to obtain an export certificate from the authorities on leaving. Without this documentation, you cannot take such items out of the country.

Banned exports: 

All articles banned from import as well as publications or media containing state secrets, valuable cultural artefacts, and endangered/rare animals and plants (and their seeds).

China Visa and Passport Requirements

Passport required

Return ticket required

Visa required













Other EU










To enter China, a passport with at least six months' validity is required by all nationals referred to in the chart above.

To enter Hong kong, a passport valid for the duration of stay is required by nationals in the chart above.

Passport note: 

Foreign nationals must carry their passports at all times as police carry out random spot checks; these are more frequent around times of heightened security such as sporting events.

Those wishing to visit Tibet are strongly advised to join a travel group. Individual travellers need an Tibet Travel Permit issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau. Applicants also need to show their Chinese visa.



Visas are required by all nationals referred to in the chart above to enter China, except:

  • All nationals above when visiting Hong Kong or Macau only, in which case visas are not required for varying lengths of stay.
  • All nationals above when visiting the Pearl River Delta for up to six days as part of an organised tour group from Hong Kong or Macau.
  • Nationals of Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the USA visiting Hainan Province only as part of an approved, organised tourist group for stays of up to 15 days (21 days for German nationals).

Visa note: 

When making the visa application you will need to submit a detailed itinerary of all places you plan to visit and all hotel bookings (including addresses and phone numbers and dates of arrival and departure).

Business travellers are required to provide an official invitation from the company or institution in China when applying for a visa.

Visitors must register with the Chinese Public Security Bureau within 24 hours of arrival.

Nationals not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements.

Types and cost: 

Single-entry: £30 (UK nationals), £90 (US nationals), £20 (other nationals).

Double-entry: £45 (UK nationals), £90 (US nationals), £30 (other nationals).

Multiple-entry within six months: £90 (UK nationals), £90 (US nationals), £40 (other nationals).

Multiple-entry within 12 months or more: £180 (UK nationals), £90 (US nationals), £60 (other nationals).

You must also pay a service fee of £36 (standard), £48 (express) or £54 (postal applications).


Single-entry visas are normally valid for three months, double-entry for six months, and multiple-entry either six, 12 or 24 months.


A transit visa is not required if staying in the confines of the airport for more than 24 hours. If leaving the airport, a transit visa is required for some nationalities. However, nationals of some countries, including all those listed in the chart above, are exempt for up to 72 hours and are free to visit the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu. In this case, it is possible to apply for a transit without visa at Beijing Capital International Airport, Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, Pudong International Airport, Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport and Shuangliu Airport.

Application to: 

Consulate (or consular section at embassy). Many consulates (including those in the UK) issue visas through the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre ( rather than directly through the consulate.

Working days: 

Visa applications for China should be made one month in advance.

The express service requires three days, and the regular service takes four days. Postal applications are usually processed and returned within 10 working days, if all the documentation is in good order.

China: Doing business & keeping in touch


Doing business in China


Suits should be worn for business visits. Appointments should be made in advance and punctuality is expected. Business cards should be printed with a Chinese translation on the reverse and should be presented with both hands, while cards received should be studied and perhaps commented on. It is rude to put a business card directly into a pocket without giving it due attention, and a cardinal sin to put it in a back pocket. Business meals can last for several hours, and international visitors may well be expected to drink numerous toasts.

Office hours: 

Mon-Fri 0900-1800, midday break of one hour.


China is now the world's second largest economy behind the USA, and has seen rapid and consistent growth since starting economic reforms in the 1980s. GDP growth has averaged 10% per year for the past decade. However, in recent years the pace of growth has slowed noticeably, with GDP growth of 7.8% in 2012, in part due to the precarious financial situation in Europe.

There is a significant industrial base with pockets of advanced manufacturing and high-technology enterprises, concentrated on the eastern coast and the Pearl River Delta, including Special Administrative Regions such as Hong kong and Macau. Massive engineering schemes include the Three Gorges Dam hydro-electric project.

With huge disparities between the prosperous coastal cities and the socially and economically less developed inland areas, there has been a major population shift from the countryside to cities; in 2011 over 250m citizens had moved from the countryside into the cities.

China is the world's largest rice producer and a major producer of cereals and grain. Large mineral deposits, particularly coal and iron ore, underpin an extensive steel industry. China has its own petrochemicals industry, but increasingly imports large quantities of oil and gas.

China joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001. In 2005, its central bank removed the US-Dollar peg for the Yuan, tying it instead to a basket of international currencies. Ever since, the Chinese currency has appreciated at a brisk, albeit strictly managed, pace, though it is still not fully convertible on foreign markets.
China hosts numerous international conventions each year, holding them in extensive facilities in Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities including Guangzhou, Xiamen, Chengdu, Xi'an and Kunming.


US$8.3 trillion (2012).

Main exports: 

Machinery and data processing equipment, textiles, apparel, textiles, integrated circuits.

Main imports: 

Machinery and equipment, oil and mineral fuels, motor vehicles, metal ores.

Main trading partners: 

USA, European Union, Hong Kong (SAR), Japan and South korea


Keeping in Touch in China



Public telephones are becoming harder to locate - your best bets are in post offices and at roadside kiosks. There is a three-minute minimum charge for international calls. The cheapest way to call internationally is to buy a pre-paid calling card, available from most convenience stores and in hotels in units of ¥20, 50, 100 and 200. Skype is a further option.

Mobile phone: 

China has the most mobile phone users in the world, backed by a very sophisticated mobile communications system that now covers the entire country. Roaming agreements exist with most major international mobile phone companies. Alternatively, you can buy a prepaid GSM SIM card (from China Mobile Ltd stores) that allows you to use your mobile like a local phone with a new number. You'll need your passport to register.


Internet cafés can be found in most towns and cities, and Wi-Fi is increasingly available at hotels and cafés in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Hangzhou and other major cities. Access is cheap and usually reliable. The state routinely blocks access to sites run by the banned spiritual movement Falun Gong, rights groups, Western social networking sites and some foreign news organisations. Postings by bloggers are closely monitored.


Service to Europe takes from between two days and one week. Tourist hotels usually have their own post offices. All postal communications to China should be addressed 'People's Republic of China'.

Post office hours: 

Mon-Fri 08:00-19:00.


China's media is tightly controlled by the country's leadership. The industry has been opened up in the areas of distribution and advertising but not in editorial content. Access to foreign news providers is limited and re-broadcasting and the use of satellite receivers is restricted; shortwave radio broadcasts are jammed and websites are blocked. In general, the press report on corruption and inefficiency among officials, but the media avoids criticism of the Communist Party's monopoly on power. Hong Kong so far has largely retained an editorially free media. Each city has its own newspaper, usually published by the local government, as well as a local Communist Party daily. All foreign-made TV programmes are subject to approval before broadcast. The People’s Daily is the official newspaper of the Communist Party, whilst Reference News is the paper with the largest circulation. The largest English-language newspapers is China Daily.


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