Prospects of studying in China
China is one of the largest countries (9.6 million Sq. Km) with the highest population (1.3 billion) in the world. The Chinese lifestyle is highly influenced by western culture, even though the Chinese hold their own culture very close. You will find fast food restaurants, supermarkets, departmental stores such as in any western country, in the major Chinese cities. Having said that, the Chinese culture, people, habits, language, food, and interactions are fairly different from what you experience in Bangladesh or any other country. Therefore, any student going for higher studies in China will need to be flexible and enjoy the unexpected: make friends with locals and appreciate the culture around you; sample the wonderful Chinese food; visit the various different areas of the city you decide to stay in or around the country. Most importantly, try to speak the language (Mandarin). You will find many youngsters also speak English and are eager to practice. Ask questions to further your learning. You will make many happy memories.
Herein, I will try to provide some basic information about studying in China. The first step is to seek admission in a University or College in China. You may go to the different university/college websites and apply. Once you are admitted, the University will issue an Admission Letter, along with the official documents for visa application to China, i.e. Form JW201 or JW202. With these papers plus documents showing your financial support - Chinese Government scholarship, other scholarships or proof of funds for self finance - you may apply for student visa at the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka. Students who plan to study for more than 6 months will be issued X-1 visas; for less than 6 months, X-2 visas are issued.
Undergraduate studies in China are all conducted in Chinese (Mandarin) language. 80% of the people in China use Mandarin. Only in select universities in China, Masters and Ph.D. programs are run in English. For undergraduate students, it may be an advantage to start learning Chinese in Bangladesh - it will save time and provide you a better understanding of the language before you arrive. The best way to do that would be to enroll yourself in the Confucius Institute at the North South University or other language programs at local Universities in Bangladesh which offer courses in Chinese language, e.g. Dhaka University, BRAC University, Shanto-Mariam University of Creative Technology. If possible, choose a program which is taught by native Chinese speakers. The universities mentioned above have Chinese native teachers. If you learn Chinese in these universities and do well, they may also arrange scholarships from Chinese government. Remember, you have to study hard and be one of the top students in the class. Speaking from my own experience I can testify that learning Mandarin is not hard for Bengalis, but it requires hard work, lot of memorizing and practice. Point to note is that even if you learn Chinese language basics in Bangladesh, the first year in the University in China would be an intensive course in Chinese language. That will make you proficient in Chinese language to start the main courses.
In China higher education is run by the government. Major cities have excellent universities. There is a misguided impression outside of China that you have to study in Beijing if you go for higher studies in the country. All Universities are good and they impart high quality education. From my experience, I could name some of the good universities I have been exposed to: Peking (or Beijing) University, Tsinghua University, Renmin (Peoples) University, China Agricultural University, China University of Business and Economics, Sichuan University, Nottingham University Business School China (Ningbo), Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Fudan University, Nanjing University, Wuhan University, University of Science and Technology China, Jilin University, Xi'an Jiao Tong University, Tianjin University, Nankai University, Beihang University, Beijing Normal University, Yunnan University (Kunming), Xiamen University, South West University (Chongqing), Zhejiang University, Kunming University of Science and Technology, China Medical University, China University of Communications, Capital Medical College, South China University of Technology, Zhejiang Medical University etc. These are some of the top universities in China and in many of them there are Bangladeshi students. In China there are more than 2,000 colleges and universities enrolling more than 20 million students. You have many options to choose from - visiting the university websites is a good start.
The Chinese government grants many scholarships for developing countries' students. There are a good number of such scholarships available for students from Bangladesh. The best way to get such scholarships would be to review the official website of Chinese Government Scholarships of the China Scholarship Council, determine eligibility, and apply. There are tips for and introduction to Chinese government scholarships, studying in China, preparation and other important information on this site. This site also explains the details of different kinds of scholarship programs available for foreign students. Please visit the website here for more information on applications: http://www.csc.edu.cn/laihua/indexen.aspx
Good luck to you as you evaluate studying in China!
The writer is Managing Editor, The Daily Star.