Destination Asia Pacific – Universities See Increased Interest From Cambridge International Students

Kamal Mamat and Dora Duan, Cambridge International Recognition Managers

Cambridge students are always keen to explore the world of university options, and increasingly their research leads them to Asia Pacific. Even before the pandemic, international student numbers had increased significantly across the region and this trend seems set to continue. As Recognition Managers based in China and Singapore, we are also observing the impact of Covid-19 on local university choices, with more students considering the benefits of studying closer to home.

So what makes Asia Pacific such a popular study destination? Here are just a few compelling reasons:

Quality of education

There’s no doubt about the quality and reputation of Asia Pacific universities, as shown by the QS World University Rankings 2022 in which 99 of the region’s universities are among the Top 300. Cambridge International qualifications are widely recognised by these universities, making application straightforward. Students can choose from a wide variety of degree courses, with many universities offering teaching entirely in English. At Nagoya University in Japan, for example, students can enrol for English-taught programmes in subjects across the sciences, social sciences and humanities. Zhejiang University in China also offers multi-degree programmes in English in medicine, engineering and technology.

Diverse cultural and language experiences

Not only can students choose from an impressive range of courses and institutions, the region offers the chance to experience new and exciting cultures, or – for those already living in Asia Pacific – a ‘home from home’ campus experience where life is more familiar. Students can choose to complete their degree in English while learning another language from their destination, such as Chinese, Japanese or Malay.

Strong links with universities worldwide further extends choice and student mobility. A number of global institutions operate satellite campuses in the region, and run established exchange and transnational education programmes. Good examples include the programmes run by New York and Shanghai Universities, and by Xi’an Jiatong and Liverpool Universities. A number of Australian universities, such as Monash and James Cook, also have strong links across Malaysia and Singapore, as does the UK’s University of Reading.  These programmes give students the chance to experience study in other parts of the world, and start to build the networks and connections they need for post-university life.

Value for money

While cost of living can vary tremendously across the region, the cost of education can be surprisingly affordable, especially when compared to some of the more expensive courses offered worldwide. For example, the QS World University Rankings 2022 show that the full cost (tuition plus living expenses) of a four-year degree at the University of Tokyo or University of Hong Kong is significantly less than a similarly ranked university in the US or UK.

For students already in the region, staying closer to home can result in significant savings in terms of travel costs and living expenses (again, depending on where you decide to study). For those families feeling the negative economic impact of the pandemic, an affordable route to a high-quality education is an important advantage. Many universities also offer generous scholarships for students, based on need or academic potential. University of International Business and Economics in China, for example, offers a range scholarships for students with good Cambridge International A Levels, including two years’ free tuition for students with three A grades. Deakin College in Jakarta also offers merit-based Scholarships for Cambridge students.

Excellent prospects

A degree from an Asia Pacific university really is a passport to a world of opportunity. Firstly, a degree taught in English gives students the linguistic skills they need to work, or continue their studies, in an English speaking environment – which could be anywhere in the world. For students deciding to stay in the region, impressive growth in sectors such as manufacturing and export is driving demand for well-educated graduates. In addition, countries such as Australia and New Zealand offer generous post-study work visas. These allow students to stay on after graduation and take their first steps on the career ladder before possibly returning home, and is an important draw for many students and their families.

What does an Asia Pacific university look for in a prospective student?

Competition for places in Asia Pacific universities can be high – so what can you do to give yourself the best possible chance of success?:

  • Make sure you know the subjects required for your course: Many universities demand passes in a number of compulsory subjects, not just those demanded by the course.
  • Maths and sciences courses will demand high scores: If you have done well in a programme such as Cambridge International then you should be equipped with the skills your need to succeed.
  • Language skills: If you apply with English language qualifications, such as those from Cambridge International, then your English skills won’t be in doubt, but you may still need to demonstrate a basic knowledge of the local language so plan to factor language lessons into your preparation.

Don’t miss ‘Destination Asia Pacific’ – our Virtual University Week, 16-20 November 2021

An exclusive opportunity for Cambridge International students and families to learn more about studying at university in Australia and New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, China and Hong Kong, SAR of China.

Cambridge International recognition managers recently provided some advice on ‘college ready skills’ universities are asking for around the world – read more here.

Meet the authors

Kamal works with universities and other institutions to facilitate Cambridge students’ progression into higher education.

Dora Duan joined Cambridge Assessment International Education in 2016 as East Asia Senior Manager of Recognition and Policy. Dora managed the key relationship with Higher Education Authorities in East Asia and supported the Cambridge schools recognition development.

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