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Wuhan is the capital of Hubei province and also the most populous city in Central China. The city has been playing a key role in the transportation of goods throughout China and is thus well connected to other major cities of the country. This makes Wuhan also an interesting place to live for foreign students, as it is easy to travel to all different parts of China by train or express bus.

Why study in Wuhan?

Innovation and Commerce

Wuhan is one of the fastest-growing cities in China and was formed in 1927 from the unification of three cities - Wuchang, Hankou, and Hanyang. Since then, the city has grown even more to a population of over 10 million. It is the industrial and commercial centre in Central China focusing on industries such as high-tech, manufacturing, engineering and pharmacy. On top of that, Wuhan is an important transportation hub in China connecting major cities in all directions through high-speed railways and expressways. The city's Wuhan University and Huazhong University of Science and Technology are ranked within the world’s top 500 as per QS University Ranking of the world’s top universities.

History and Culture

Wuhan also offers interesting historic and cultural attractions to its locals and visitors alike. For example, it is home to the largest lake within a city in China, covering a total area of over 80 km2. In the springtime, the shores surrounding East Lake are filled with Mei and Cherry Blossoms as well as lotuses. The Hubei Provincial Museum counts over 200,000 artefacts, making it one of the leading museums in the country. The tomb of Marquis Yi from the fifth century BCE in particular is regarded as a world treasure. The Yellow Crane Tower is Wuhan’s most famous landmark that was first built in 220 AD. Standing on the top floor of the tower reveals breathtaking views of the city.

Wuhan and education

Due to its four scientific and technological development parks, such as the Wuhan East Lake High-Tech Development Zone and a selection of enterprise incubators and research institutes, Wuhan is a main centre of education and science in China. It is therefore no surprise that Wuhan is one of the cities with the highest numbers of students in the country. Many English-taught programmes, mainly at master’s level, also attract a lot of foreign students seeking to explore an authentic Chinese experience in a smaller city away from Beijing and Shanghai.

The academic environment

Due to the comparably low tuition fees and cost of living compared to Beijing in the north and Shanghai in the east, Wuhan ranks in the top 50 of the 'affordability' category in the Best Student Cities index. This makes the city in Central China a popular destination for international students.

Moreover, the Chinese government has recently improved its regulations regarding work visas for international and implemented new policies allowing foreign students to do internships, seek part-time jobs and even start their own businesses in China after graduating from university. This had been something many international students struggled with and many are now relieved to be able to extend their stay in China.

The teaching culture

The education system in China is rather hierarchical. Students address the teachers in a formal manner using ‘professor’ or 老师 (laoshi) in Chinese. Moreover, students will either be part of a fixed group of students with the same timetable or attend your classes with different students each lecture depending on their majors. The grades are calculated through exams and sometimes projects that the professors assign as they please.

The teaching language

While some classes may be held in English, most programs will be conducted in Chinese only. This requires international students have an intermediate level of fluency in Chinese and/or pass the Chinese Language Proficiency Test in order to enroll into programs. For instance, the Wuhan University will need your HSK results to grant you a place in one of its non-English medium programs. If you don’t have any knowledge of the Chinese language, you will be able to enroll in a one-year intensive Chinese language course before taking the HSK. You will need to pass level 4 to be allowed to apply for regular courses.

Wuhan’s main universities

Wuhan University (WHU)

Wuhan University was founded in 1893 by the governor of Hubei and Hunan Province in the late Qing Dynasty. Only several decades later, university had established 6 colleges, including the colleges of liberal art, law, sciences, engineering, agriculture and medicine. Blending the Chinese and Western style, it is regarded as one of the most beautiful campuses in China.

According to the QS World University Rankings, WHU was ranked 282nd overall and 38th in the field of Dentistry in 2016.

Moreover, the university has a faculty consisting of over 3,700 including 741 international staff. Wuhan University has nearly 50,000 students and over 3,600 international students, 61% of which are undergrads.

You can find more information regarding admissions at the WHU website.

Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST)

Literally translating to ‘Central China University of Science and Technology, HUST is one of the 16 national key universities, directly under the administration of the Ministry of Education of China located by the beautiful East Lake of Wuhan. The university is comprised of twelve divisions: engineering, medicine, management, science, philosophy, economics, law, education, literature, history, agriculture, and art. Huazhong University of Science and Technology also leads Wuhan National Laboratories for Opto-electronics (WNLO), one of the five national laboratories in China.

The university was also selected to join China’s “211 Project”, a project to fund and develop 100 key universities and colleges in the country, as well as “985 Project” aimed at boosting Chinese top-class universities at an international level.

As per QS University Ranking, it is placed 471st in the world’s top universities and 101st in the field of Material Sciences in 2016. The current student body is just above 60,000 with over 2,000 international students enrolled at HUST coming from all over the world. Moreover, there are over 3,700 faculty members with 67 international staff.

Don’t hesitate to find out more directly at the HUST website.

Entry conditions

Due to the fairly large quota on foreign enrolment, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get accepted into a university in Wuhan. Still, there are several requirements students will need to meet in order to be allowed onto a programme.

International students need to provide a clean criminal background check, as well as an agreement certificate from their school if they wish to transfer. Applicants will also have to possess a Chinese language proficiency (HSK) of at least level 4 proving their fluency. Failing that, students will have to complete a six months of a year long intensive Mandarin program before being able to start regular classes. Master students will also have to provide a copy of their transcripts and several recommendation letters.

Tuition Fees and Scholarships

The average tuition fees at Chinese universities range between 3,300 and 10,000 USD per year. Bachelor students studying at Huazhong University of Science and Technology pay an average of RMB 20,700 a year for majors in Science, Engineering, Economics and Management, RMB 15,700 a year for majors in Literature,Philosophy and Law, as well as RMB 40,000 a year for majors in Medicine. Tuition fees for Masters students are on average RMB 4,000 to 7,000 a year higher. The tuition for Bachelor programs at Wuhan University are almost identical to HUST.

There are various scholarships available for international students in China. For instance, there is a scholarship specifically aimed at EU students seeking funding to study at a university in China. On top of that, The Great Wall Program was created to support students from developing countries to come to China and study for a year at any degree level. Doctorate students, as well as applicants from other Asian and worldwide countries, will also have access to other scholarships.

Student housing

While most students choose to live on campus in foreign student dormitories, some students also decide to move off campus and live in a shared apartments with fellow students (upon permission of the school). Students can also live off campus with the permission of the school and can find rooms for EUR 150 to 290 per month.

Living and working in China

Wuhan is a great place to study. The city of over 10 million offers a combined big city vibe with an authentic Chinese experience. Less Westernised than Beijing and Shanghai, the cost of living in Wuhan is also a lot cheaper than in China’s favourite two cities. Most scholarships provide housing at dormitories on campus.

Foreign students in China are required to purchase both medical insurance and personal accidental death and injury insurance before or after arrival in China. On top of that, for those who are planning on staying in China for over one year need to undergo a physical examination. This examination has to be done at a public hospital in their home country one month before departing for China.

The Chinese government has recently formed plans to further persuade international students to remain in China by implementing new policies that allow foreign students to take on internships, part-time jobs and even to start their own businesses in China after graduating, something that has been rather difficult in the past.

China has realised the great advantages of international graduates remaining in the country for work and implemented new regulations to make it easier to stay and work in China. The new regulations were introduced in January 2017 and state that foreign graduates with a master’s degree or above from a university in China can apply for work visas straight away within one year of graduating.

Travel and Entertainment

Due to Wuhan’s central location in China, it is a great base when trying to explore the rest of the country in your free time. The best way to explore Hubei Province and other parts of China is to travel by high-speed train or express bus. Wuhan is a busy hub and is well connected to all corners of the country. A weekend trip to cities like Shanghai in the east or Hong Kong in the south is not a problem.

Wuhan itself has a lot to offer, too. Besides the Hubei Provincial Museum, the Yellow Crane Tower and the beautiful East Lake, Wuhan also offers a wide range of entertainment facilities, such as karaoke, cinemas, clubs and bars.

Local meals every student should taste once in their life

Wuhan and the entire province of Hubei is famous for its unique cuisine. Hubei cuisine puts great emphases on the preparation of the individual ingredients and the matching of colors. A lot of the dishes in Hubei are steamed and use dried hot pepper. When in Wuhan, be sure to try pork ribs and lotus root soup, steamed fish cakes and Mianyang Sanzheng, a steamed noodle dish. Ji Qing Jie street is a hotspot for bars and great restaurants and best visited in the evening.

General advice

It is very important to refrain from openly criticising the Chinese government as a foreigner in the country. Also note that many social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and also Google are not accessible in China.

 Useful links:

Study in China run by the Chinese Government
Chinese Language Proficiency Test
Chinese Government Scholarship Program

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