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The system, the money and student life

Asian universities focus on pure sciences, offer some amount of course flexibility and have government accreditation.

education Updated: Jan 25, 2012 11:38 IST

Asian universities place much importance on pure sciences, as opposed to American universities that emphasise on liberal arts.

“The education pattern in Asian universities, such as in Singapore, China and Hong Kong do not offer as much flexibility in subjects as is offered in the West, but they aren’t as rigid as the Indian education system. They allow you to choose subjects in addition to your core subjects, for instance, at NUS you study engineering, along with say, economics,” says Jain.

Also, many top Asian universities are government-controlled and have the stamp of government accreditation. Hence, while looking for a university in Asia, students must choose such universities to ensure credibility and authenticity of the programme.

Also, contrary to general perception, language is not a barrier when studying at these institutions.

“Most of the top notch universities in China, Hong Kong and Singapore offer programmes where the medium of instruction is only English,” says GMAT trainer Mitul Gada.

Admission requirements in Asian universities aren’t as elaborate as in their western counterparts.

“In these countries, emphasis is laid on a student’s academic achievements more than anything else. Unlike, the process involved in applying to western universities, here students simply have to fill online forms, send across marksheets and transcripts, and they are done,” says Jain.

However, getting in is not as easy as applying, says Astha Kalbag, 18, who is currently doing a bachelor’s in business management at SMU.

“It’s difficult to get into SMU given the rigorous admission process. Academic scores are the most important factor; however, due to a high level of competition the admissions committee also considers your co-curricular activities and leadership and communication skills are gauged through interviews.”

Many top-notch universities in Singapore, China and Hong Kong have tied up with their counterparts across the globe, to offer student exchange programmes and dual degree programmes.

International collaboration at the university level in these countries is of a very high quality. While some universities have set up their campuses, others offer study abroad programmes.

“At SMU, we have student exchange programmes with various universities across the world. For two semesters, that is five months, every year, we go to another country and study there as our credits get transferred,” says Kalbag.

Nikhil Wadhwa, who did an MBA from the University of Hong Kong, too studied one term in London and three in Hong Kong, through the partnership programme between his university and London Business School.

Finances
The cost of living and tuition fees in Singapore, is considerably higher than that in China and Hong Kong. “Singapore is expensive in terms of living costs,” says Jain.

“A student pays between Rs 5 to Rs 7 lakh per year in living costs, which is equal to what he would spend in America. However, the tuition fee definitely varies by approximately 20%, in comparison to western universities.”

Wadhwa chose to pursue his MBA in Hong Kong over the US, mainly because of the difference in cost and the duration of the course.

“An MBA in Hong Kong has cost me half the amount I would’ve had to pay in the US. Also, nine months of living costs in Hong Kong equals to just three months of living costs in a place like London. I spent Rs 20 lakh on tuition fees in Hong Kong for a year.”

However, scholarships for international students are available in all three countries. Satyendra Upadhyay, who pursued his PhD in marine biology from Xiamen University, China, says, “As I applied to the university through the fellowship programme introduced by the misnitry of HRD, I got a full scholarship of 2,000 Chinese Yuan 25% from the government of India and 75% from the government of China.” Kalbag, too, secured a scholarship of Rs 3 lakh.

Student life
These three Asian countries are on their way to becoming multi-cultural hubs of the world. The universities here also offer a rich student life by way of extra-curricular activities.

“It’s compulsory for students, faculty and the vice chancellor to participate in the activities conducted during the annual sports day. Nobody can opt out,” says Upadhyay.

Asian universities pay special attention to sport, as is evident from the sport facilities available in these universities.

“We have a stadium for athletics, at least 25 basketball courts, 10 volleyball courts, four lawn tennis courts, and a court each for badminton and
gymnastics,” adds Upadhyay.

Work opportunities
Students, who graduate from the top three universities of Singapore, can avail of the one-year post-study work visa. In Hong Kong, for a one-year MBA programme, students can work on a part-time internship for 20 hours per week.

“Finding a job in an MNC in China is easy compared to the western nations, as most global companies now have their offices there,” says Dolla.

Top universities
Singapore:
Singapore Management University, National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University
Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University
China: Peking University, Tsingua university, Xiamen University

Campus in Asia
Newcastle University, UK — Singapore
Savannah College of Art and Design — Hong Kong
INSEAD Business School — Singapore
James Cook University, Australia — Singapore
University of Nottingham, UK — China

Joint programmes
Georgia Tech - Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU). An agreement that allows students of SJTU to receive dual master's degrees from both institutions.
Yale University, US - National University of Singapore. Both universities will jointly create a liberal arts college in Singapore by 2013.
Carnegie Mellon University, US - National University of Singapore. A dual degree programme, wherein students can study at both universities.

All foreign students in Chinese universities are taught Mandarin, as a part of the syllabus. But the official language forinteraction inside the university campus is English.

In China, most foreign students teach English and get paid as much as Rs 1,200 per hour. During the programme, students are taken on a study tour around the country as a part of the curriculum.

Satyendra Upadhyay, PhD in marine biology, Xiamen University, China and consultant on Indo-China joint ventures.