Abdul Mumin Bapube: Our journey to the guide on Higher Education continues. Today we take you to China through our brother Sidique Gawusu. He is a Doctoral researcher at MIIT Key Laboratory of Engineering Thermophysics, School of Energy and Power Engineering, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, China. As a scholarship beneficiary himself, we are positive his guidance will assist a lot of Readers to acquire the necessary skills to compete competitively for the Chinese Government Scholarship and many more. Congratulations brother Gawusu for the height attained so far and welcome to the Career Convo.
Sidique Gawusu: Thank you! I am happy to be here.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: You are welcome bro
Taking into consideration the fact that China is not an English-Speaking country, please take Readers through a systematic guide on what to consider when choosing a program of study into a Chinese University.
Sidique Gawusu: Thank you for the question.
Before we move on, permit me to give a general overview of the educational sector in China.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Please go ahead
Sidique Gawusu: The People’s Republic of China is a socialist state under the people’s democratic leadership led by the working class based on an alliance of workers and farmers, with the socialist system as the basic system of governance.
The Chinese education system is the largest state-run education in the world.
The number of public colleges and universities in China amount to 2,688. These include 1,265 universities and 1,423 higher vocational collages.
Plans to further develop and modernise the national higher education system is among the latest policy trends of the Chinese government. Initiatives such as the Double First-Class University Plan is one of the most recent contributions to the higher education development plan aimed at improving Chinese universities’ standards as well as creating more world-class universities across the country.
In 2018, the Chinese government pledged to offer 50,000 scholarships to African students from 2018 to 2021. As a result, China now has the largest number of African international students in the world, more than traditional study abroad destinations like the US or UK.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Wow
Sidique Gawusu: Sixteen percent (16%) of all international students pursuing higher education in China come from Africa, accounting for 81,562, six thousand five hundred (6,500) being Ghanaians – the largest group in China.
Now back to the question!
Because of time constraint, I have decided to limit my answers to general postgraduate studies, and post-secondary education in certain fields of study.
You do not need to be fluent in Chinese to study in China except undergraduate studies where one year of compulsory Chinese language is required before starting the actual program of study.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: This must be pleasing to Readers
Sidique Gawusu: Universities in China offer thousands of high-quality English-taught programs for international students.
The most popular English taught programs in China are Computer Science, General Engineering, International Business, Economics and Languages.
However, choosing a program of study that would involve so many years of your life and ultimately define your career should be based on what aligns with your career aspirations and not how popular the program is.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: That’s fine Sir
Sidique Gawusu: Make a thoughtful choice based on the career you want to follow. Make sure the program is an English taught program if you do not wish to learn Mandarin before starting the main program.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Thanks for your comprehensive advice
Abdul Mumin Bapube: I know you have given a lot of general advices already; may you now give us any specific advice on the choice of a suitable university in China?
Sidique Gawusu: Sure, a nation as large and diverse as China with several universities, the decision to select a single university to study is indeed a daunting task.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: That is a fact
Sidique Gawusu: Mainland China has two higher education institutions continuously ranked among the top 50 universities in the world.
Tsinghua University in Beijing is the leading university in China and one of the most reputable ones globally.
Peking University, the second best in the country, is the oldest national university founded as the Imperial University of Peking and besides its academic reputation; it is famous for one of the most beautiful university campuses.
Fudan University in Shanghai, University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and Nanjing University are other prestigious schools consistently competing in China’s top 10 university rankings.
However, should rating be an important factor is choosing a study destination or University?
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Good question
Sidique Gawusu: I would say yes and no.
It is useful when making choices between universities because they explain how well one University is doing in comparison to others.
However, it should be noted that rating does not give information at course and department level.
A high placing does mean that, generally, facilities and resources are above average compared to other Universities.
Nevertheless, it can be an important factor in terms of your career as some blue-chip companies have a preference of students from some specific Universities.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: That’s a point worth noting
Sidique Gawusu: Ranking of universities also has to do with Internationalisation, and this has become a new landmark of Chinese higher education, measured by indicators such as personnel mobility, number of offshore/joint programs, and international publications, even though it is still riddled with challenges.
I personally attribute the Internationalisation challenge in China to language barrier.
The most important thing I would say is that you first focus on which course you want to study, and then you can start looking for universities that rank higher for teaching these subject areas.
There is no point in picking a university first, and then later deciding what course to study. If they do not fit, you will end up making a severe mistake.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Oh, I see
Sidique Gawusu: Oh yeah
Sidique Gawusu: Visit the university websites and read about your courses, the city/town and the social life. You cannot choose a university without considering the course it offers.
You can also speak to students who already study there or read an alternative guide. Apply to at least three universities and you will improve your chances of being admitted.
The number of other international students studying in universities may also be a factor in your choice of university. If you want to belong to a community of students, then you may select campuses with lots of International students. Else, this might not be an essential factor. It can get lonely sometimes.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: A lot of information given. Thanks Sir
What are the general admission requirements for Ghanaian students seeking to study in China?
Sidique Gawusu: Applicants for Bachelor’s degree must have a high school certificate and be under the age of 25, those for Master’s degree program must have a Bachelor’s degree and be under the age of 35 and those for PhD program must have a master’s degree and be under the age of 40.
These age limits are mainly for the two main scholarships offered by the Chinese government, namely, Chinese Government Scholarship (CSC) and the Provincial Government Scholarships. A fully self-sponsored applicant will not be affected by these age limits.
Required documents are very similar for most universities in China. For more advanced degrees such as master’s and PhD, there may be a few additional documents to submit, such as research statement, research proposal, and/or publications.
The basic ones that you need to prepare include:
- Passport-sized photo
- Photocopy of your passport
- Graduation Certificate
- Official transcript of records
- Personal statement
- English language certificate (Proficiency letter)
- Letter of recommendation (at least one for masters)
- Physical Examination Records
- Proof that you can support your studies (Self-sponsored students)
- Application fee for some universities
More documents may be required, depending on each school’s request. Applicants must also have a competitive academic performance, at least Second class lower for Master’s and a strong research foundation for PhD.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Talking about self-funding, how much are we talking about generally for a master degree
Sidique Gawusu: It is generally between 27,000 GHS and 31,500 GHS for Master’s and 39,700 GHS for the PhD per annum.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Thanks for this Sir
Sidique Gawusu: This is for the engineering sciences.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: I guess the humanities might be slightly lower
Sidique Gawusu: Exactly!
Abdul Mumin Bapube: After meeting the requirements, what steps must be followed to secure an admission into a Chinese University?
Sidique Gawusu: The next step is to apply. Regarding the application process, Chinese universities allow international students to choose one of the following options:
For many, the easiest and the most convenient way is to apply online, directly on the website of your favourite university.
You can also apply through CUCAS (China’s University and College Admission System) – an online self-application platform that allows you to apply for any Chinese university. It acts as an intermediary between you and the university.
The CUCAS is like the UKPASS or UCAS, for those familiar with the UK system.
The CUCAS website is also an online advisor and professional guide, helping you make the right decision regarding your studies in China.
Alternatively, you can submit your applications with the help of your friends who are already studying at the same Chinese university where you want to apply.
They can easily get all the info about the necessary application documents and give you feedback. Send the documents to your friends and they can submit the application for you.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Great, I guess Readers will be running to you on this
Sidique Gawusu: Readers are welcome.
The academic year in China usually has two semesters, spring semester and autumn semester, except for a few higher educational institutions who implemented a three-semester system.
It is best to figure out every university’s specific application deadline for each semester, but these are the general recommendations:
- For spring semester: submit the application until 15th of July (Scholarship applicants normally do not use this opening)
- For autumn Semester: submit the application until 30th of April
Abdul Mumin Bapube: What determines the chances of the applicant in successfully securing an admission offer?
Sidique Gawusu: A successful application is one with all the above-mentioned requirements met.
If you meet them, you definitely increase your chances.
There is one other requirement for those seeking to read PhD and in some cases, Masters; it is that you first obtain a potential supervisor.
This tremendously increases your chances in securing admission and funding.
This is necessary because nearly all Master’s programs in China are research-based.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Any hint on how to secure a supervisor?
Sidique Gawusu: List of potential supervisors are always available on the university’s website. So, you can easily reach them by emailing them. This is a link to some of the potential supervisors at NJUST. http://study.njust.edu.cn/5c/0d/c4398a220173/page.htm
[Similar links are available on other university websites.
[Abdul Mumin Bapube: Thanks for sharing Sir.
What are the available Chinese scholarships for international students?
Sidique Gawusu: Thanks for the question. Chinese Universities provide over ten different types of Scholarships to foreigners.
There are government-sponsored scholarships, University and Municipal Authority Scholarships, and many more.
The number of applicants who apply to the University will determine your success rate. The Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) is the most popular one.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Noted with thanks
What is your advice for a Ghanaian student who is searching and seeking to secure a Chinese scholarship to pursue postgraduate study?
Sidique Gawusu: Before you submit your application, reach out to potential supervisors. You can do this by emailing them your credentials as highlighted above.
Explain why you are best fit to work on a project with them. It is encouraged to submit your application documents as early as possible to increase your chances. Make sure you submit more than one scholarship application.
For the CSS scholarship, you need to submit your application at the CSC official website. The system allows you to choose up to three universities.
The provincial scholarship allows you to submit your application through the university’s website.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Great
For a Ghanaian student to successfully acquire a Chinese Student Visa, what documents are required?
Sidique Gawusu: There are two types of student visa category: X1 which is for students staying for more than 180 days in China and X2 for students staying less than 180 days.
Most Ghanaian students fall under the X1 visa. The following are the required documentation:
- Valid and original passport with at least one blank visa page. It should also be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of application.
[2. Visa Application Form with one passport photo. Only colour photo with light background like light blue and white is acceptable.
- Approved Foreign Student Visa Application Form (JW201 or JW202) issued by the authorised Chinese university and an admission letter from the university.
- Medical Examination – done by any recognised medical centre.
- Proof of Funds – for self-sponsored applicants.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: How much are we talking about here
Sidique Gawusu: I am unable to answer that at this time because it keeps changing.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: That’s fine Sir
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Maybe later, if you can get us any rough estimate, that will be helpful.
Sidique Gawusu: Alright sir!
Abdul Mumin Bapube: What steps are involved in the student visa application?
Sidique Gawusu: In order to do this, you will need to go to the Chinese Consulate with your admission letter, Visa Application Form (also known as the JW202 form) and other requirements.
Mailed applications are not accepted and will be refused.
For regular processing time, it usually takes 4 working days. If you want express service, it takes 2 to 3 working days. A same day rush service is also available, with additional charges.
[Abdul Mumin Bapube: You can’t talk about the Chinese without mentioning efficiency
Sidique Gawusu: Seriously
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Readers, at this point you can start forwarding your questions to me privately for the resource person to answer. Thank you
Under what circumstances would an applicant possibly have their student visa refused?
Sidique Gawusu: Incorrectly filled out visa application forms may cause a delay in processing or refusal of the requested visa.
Your visa application can also be denied if you temper with the JW202 or your admission letter or you do not have all the necessary documentation. For example, a bank statement for self-sponsored applicants.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Thanks for this
What is your advice for a Ghanaian student who has successfully secured a Chinese study visa and is about to leave Ghana for China for the first time?
Sidique Gawusu: Double-check everything before your leave.
And stay in touch with your university, some universities do arrange pickups for their new arrivals because it can get confusing at the airport due to language barrier.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Very important.
What cultural, and social variances should a Ghanaian student expect when they arrive in China for the first time to pursue postgraduate studies?
Sidique Gawusu: The cultural and social differences between Ghana and China is pretty huge, so you will definitely experience some kind of culture shock.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: I can imagine that
Sidique Gawusu: Nearly everything is different! The food is different, no banku, konkonte or TZ.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: No Tubaani (laughs)
Sidique Gawusu: Some Chinese people have never seen blacks in their lives, so they will treat you as seeing someone or experiencing something for the first time-they stare. Some are also just pure racists.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Same problem anywhere in the world
Abdul Mumin Bapube: What should they do in order to swiftly adapt to the culture and environment in China?
Sidique Gawusu: Keep an open mind, ask questions, make some friends and learn some basic Mandarin if you can.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Very important, I hope you can flow now Sir (laughs)
Sidique Gawusu: Just basics br. lol
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Well, done
Abdul Mumin Bapube: What dos and don’ts must a Ghanaian student who is studying in China for the first time observe in order to avoid trouble and to maximise benefit from their study time in China?
Sidique Gawusu: Thanks for the question. This is really very important.
Study hard, try as much as possible to obey their laws and regulations, and do not involve yourself in their politics.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: My pleasure Sir.
Undoubtedly, the Chinese have very strict laws and you don’t want to fall for those laws.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: By principal Investigator, you mean the applicant or potential researcher?
Sidique Gawusu: The lead researcher or supervisor.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Ok
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Any more pieces of advice, please?
Sidique Gawusu: Be mindful of those so-called agents and agencies claiming to be working with universities on behalf of prospective students.
Most of them do not have any formal agreement with the universities in China. As explained above, the application process is straight forward, and something you can do yourself.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Noted with thanks Sir
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Question from STRONGMAN,
Very comprehensive enlightenment by Sidique.
The under 40 cap is what threatens me most. Is there anything like partial scholarship for those of us above 40 years of age who still want to pursue higher education?
Sidique Gawusu: Thank you so much for the question Sir. There are some exceptions. Some universities do give partial scholarships without necessarily considering age. But these are normally linked to the research institute or centres and specific projects of the Principal Investigator (PI). Jiangsu University is an example.
It is also important to note that there are different categories of Ghanaian students in China. Those that go to study, those that go to make money (to do business) and those that go to do everything and anything either than studies.
Therefore, the group you choose to align yourself with will have so much influence on how you spend your time in China. Choose your purpose carefully in order to avoid regrets later. First contact is important!
If you are dedicated and follow all rules and laws, then you will have a fantastic time in China. A story you will definitely never forget.
Abdul Mumin Bapube: Great advice
May you now give us your concluding remarks Sir?
Sidique Gawusu: Thanks for the opportunity to once again share my thoughts with you. Always an honour!
Abdul Mumin Bapube: You are welcome bro. It’s been a pleasure having you on the Career Convo. I’m sure everyone has enjoyed your brilliant submission and hopefully, we will have a lot more of Readers joining you in China.
Thanks so much Readers for your time and cooperation as usual, may the Almighty bless us all.