5 reasons why academic opportunities in China are too good to pass up

As the world’s second-largest economy (and growing exponentially), the quality of Higher Education in China has improved significantly among world rankings, with extraordinary performance in research and teaching in recent years. According to Simon Marginson from the University of Oxford, Tsinghua will soon lead in science research with 42 of the top 1% highly cited papers in maths and computing (The Economist, 2018).

Here are five sound reasons not miss to out on the fantastic research and academic opportunities currently being offered in China.

1. High value research start-up packages and competitive salaries

China’s desire to attract international talent started very early in 2008 with the Thousands Talent Plan, which offers lucrative incentives to Chinese-born professors with an extensive research background in Western universities to teach and conduct research in China. Foreigners and youth talent were also included two years later to recruit promising candidates under the age of 40. The attractive packages include research start-up funds of up to 20 million yuan (£2.3 million), annual salaries of up to 1 million yuan (£115,440) on top of another 1 million yuan relocation and housing fund. The Chinese government also provides guaranteed employment opportunities and education subsidy for dependents.

2. Researcher-friendly environment

Building a talent pool of skilled researchers for industrial development is central to the country’s growth agenda. With huge investments in research laboratories and collaborative “talent exchange” projects with leading international universities, the quality of the research output will continue to climb. A former tenured associate professor in Virginia Tech who joined the Shenzhen-based Southern University of Science and Technology in 2017, received an annual start-up funding of 9.5 million yuan over the course of three years. He reports, “I could follow my research interests without thinking about grant proposals.”

3. English as the Medium of Instruction (EMI)

As the third largest destination for international students (after the US and the UK), the government plans to expand the number of international students in China to 500,000 by 2020. As of today, there are more than 20 cities in China each hosting over 20,000 international university students at all levels. There is a large increase in the number of taught EMI courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, which is driving demand for qualified foreign professors and researchers with proficient in English.

4. Join a growing trend to improve career prospects

These huge investments by the Chinese government and universities to improve the quality of university courses means many research and teaching opportunities are available for promising academics. You can benefit from this trend and gain international teaching experience to strengthen your CV, and open doors for your future career prospects all around the world. Simon Harrison, a professor from the English Department of Nottingham University, Ningbo campus, believes that academics who have experience of teaching in China are likely to be valued by institutions in Western universities. “All universities who want to attract Chinese students or maybe even to establish institutes in China will be looking for people like us who have experience of working over here.”

5. Go and explore China!

China is a vast country, and offers huge diversity of culture, geography and lifestyle. Each province has its own fantastic food, attractions and experiences. You can’t pack everything into one short itinerary, but it’s different when you live there. An academic contract in China will give you time to explore this huge, ancient landscape and civilisation. Taking any bullet train on the extensive rail network across the whole nation, you can experience the icy cold weather in Northern Harbin city to the Southern tropical sunny vibe in Hainan Province within a day; in Shanghai, a.k.a the most international city in China, one can never get tired of life with so many exciting international and domestic events and festivals year round; the fusion of both Eastern and Western cultures and histories. 

Deserts, mountains, prairie, rivers, skyscrapers, winding alleys and busy ports, coupled with excellent research and career prospects make China the the ideal destination for a promising academic career.

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A current masters student doing Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition at the University of Oxford.

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