Knickers in a twist: Americano in China (2/2)

Tuesday 25 September 2012, 12.57pm HKT

The idioms of reality

via Smosh

REALITY is truth.

Staying in the world of reality is power.

Power rests on facts.

Facts are based on statistics.

“Lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Facts are the enemies of truth.

Where’s your god nao, buddee boi?

Let’s hear it from those who’ve been there, done that, and came back.

But first, let’s talk about cash, that being the most realistic thing on Earth.


Cost realities

Studying in China isn’t exactly cheap.

Never mind fantasizing about how much money you could earn in future. Think about how you’re forking out now. And how much you’re lumbering yourself for the next 10 years with student loans. In accounting, that’s called gearing.


Nearly all China-related education websites describe the cost of studying there as “much less than in the West.” So’s Africa or Antarctica. It’s meaningless. There’s a fine line of difference between “much less than” and “cheaper than” when you’re comparing the cost in China with the stratospheric costs in the West. Anywhere compared with the West is much lower. Indeed, anywhere is lower compared with the USA, which is the world’s costliest on average.

Enjoy my favourite rude lawyer habit, which is headcount analysis (which I dubbed ‘AirCav analysis’ in hat tip to the proverbial U.S. Air Cavalry and its death-from-above, just-smell-the-napalm anti-VC Charlie sorties).

After scrounging around for real figures from 12 middle-ranking/ordinary Chinese universities that accepts overseas students, the average fee levels turn out to be:

Bachelor’s or undergraduate degrees (4-5 years)

  • Local students (humanities, non-science) 4,200 RMB p.a. (US$665)
  • Local students (law, sciences, medicine, dentistry) 6,000 – 12,000 RMB p.a. (US$950 – US$1,900)
  • Overseas students (humanities, non-science) 42,000 RMB p.a. (US$6,700)
  • Overseas students (law, sciences, medicine/dentistry) 160,000 RMB p.a. (US$25,400)

Master’s or postgraduate degrees (1-3 years)

  • Local students (humanities, non-science) (unavailable at presstime)
  • Local students (law, sciences, medicine, dentistry) (unavailable at presstime)
  • Overseas students (humanities, non-science) 60,000 RMB p.a. (US$9,500)
  • Overseas students (law, sciences, medicine, dentistry) 300,000 RMB p.a. (US$48,000)

The overseas student figures are minus the usual suspects: university admin fees, books, cost of living, quarters, transport, etc. Some Chinese cities bar foreigners from renting in certain cheaper, more ‘local’ districts.

The Internet is full of nonsense about the cost of studying in China. For example, this reasonably reputable website gives wildly lower figures. Notice the PR-speak in the copy.

My fee figures are averaged from genuine figures obtained direct from 12 midline Chinese universities through their admissions offices about two weeks ago, not through the Interfail.

Shameless self-promo:

I promise you, you will never find overseas vs. local tuition fees compared side by side anywhere on the Internet except here at The Naked Listener’s Weblog.

The usual (and tiresome) reason given for not comparing them is that we must compare like with like: overseas students are unlike local students. Fine, yet I’m comparing tuition fees. What are we comparing here, fees or students? They don’t want you to see the price markup.



The United Kingdom is a good example for comparison. UK fee standards are uniform nationwide for primary, secondary and tertiary education, mainly because they are set by national legislation instead of by the institution.

via iuvphonecase

UK (‘Home’) and EU students pay the same fee rate (£3,000 this year, £9,000 for 2013). Fees don’t have to be paid upfront: you can start back-paying fees when you start earning £21,000 p.a. (US$34,000) or more. Most UK universities provide pretty generous bursaries (around £3,000 or US$4,900 p.a.) to support Home students from lower-income families.

Overseas students pay 2½ times the UK/EU rate upfront, and no financial relief offered.

The University of Sheffield is as middle-of-the-road as any British university normally go. For the 2012 and 2013 academic years, Sheffield basically charges (rounded up):—

Undergraduate degrees (3 years) (2012 entry)

  • UK/EU students (all subjects) £3,000 p.a. (US$4,900)
  • Overseas (arts, humanities, law, non-science) £12,200 – £14,000 p.a. (US21,000)
  • Overseas (science, engineering) £16,000 p.a. (US$26,000)
  • Overseas (medicine/dentistry: non-clinical stage) £16,000 p.a. (US$26,000) x 2 years
  • Overseas (medicine/dentistry: clinical stage) £29,000 p.a. (US$47,000) x 3 years

Undergraduate degrees (3 years) (2013 entry)

  • UK/EU (all subjects) £9,000 p.a. (US$15,000)
  • UK/EU (science, engineering, medicine year 1) £6,000 p.a. (US$9,800)
  • Overseas students: as above

Postgraduate taught degrees (2013 entry)

British M.A. and M.Sc. are postgraduate taught degrees and generally last one year. The M.Phil. (2-3 years) and Ph.D. (3 years) are postgraduate research degrees. Fee structures for taught and research degrees vary widely from award to award, specialisation to specialisation.

  • UK/EU (taught) £5,000 – £14,000 p.a. (US$8,100 – US$23,000)
  • UK/EU (research) £4,000 – £13,000 p.a. (US$6,500 – US$21,000)
  • UK/EU (research: medicine) £4,000 – £24,000 p.a. (US$6,500 – US$39,000)
  • Overseas (taught) £14,000 – £38,000 p.a. (US$62,000)
  • Overseas (research) £16,000 – £19,000 p.a. (US$26,000 – US$31,000)
  • Overseas (research: medicine): to be confirmed

Find your own with the University of Sheffield Postgraduate Taught Fees Look Up and Research Fees Look Up.



You can get a sense of the cost of studying in France from this short article in Laurel Zuckerman’s Paris Weblog.

Truth is, it’s very expensive for a foreigner to study in France. The figures Laurel Zuckerman came up with applies only to French citizens. And you and I ain’t French citizens.



Let’s not — it’s impossible. Institutions themselves set the fees with no legal oversight. so they vary massively from institution to institution, city to city, state to state, private to public, and for in-state or out-of-state students.

Mr CC Fajita, you know the fee situation in the USA already, so I need not compare for you.



Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

3 Responses to “Knickers in a twist: Americano in China (2/2)”

  1. Ed Hurst said

    And while we’re at it, how about universities in Russia? Serbia? Mongolia? Never mind. I turned down an invitation for a masters fellowship in History. Not where I wanted to spend the rest of my life.


  2. Ed Hurst said

    Of course; I chose them for that reason. There is more than one kind of cost, as you note. I rather liked your survey.


Comments are closed.

English Legal History

Making English Legal History easy and enjoyable to digest.

Diary of a Psychokiller

take a trip with me to the darkside

Lipsync Lawyer

Stop bitching and know your law differently

Daring Fireball

Hearing ordinary lives talk

An English Man In SF

a diary of life as an immigrant

MB Forde

Ghosts, Legends, Folklore and Writing

Motorcycling in Hong Kong

On two wheels in Asia's World City


Making her way back to Neverland one day at a time...

The Naked Listener's Weblog

Hearing ordinary lives talk

Basti in China


Making Maps: DIY Cartography

Resources and Ideas for Making Maps

Pointless Diagrams

A new, meaningless diagram drawn daily, just 'cause.

The London Column

Reports from the life of a city, from 1951 to now, compiled by David Secombe

Vintagerock's Weblog.

Just another weblog

Shirley Chuk

Chuk Yin-yuk 祝燕玉 of Hong Kong

%d bloggers like this: