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Everything You Need to Know About Studying in Asia

By Linda M

Updated October 15, 2020 Updated October 15, 2020

Thinking about studying in Asia? Here’s our comprehensive guide on landing a spot at an international university.

How to choose a study destination

Choosing a destination for your degree can be difficult. Every continent – and country – has its perks and challenges, and there are a lot of factors you need to take into consideration when weighing up your options.

Some of the most important things to consider are:

  • Language: If you already have some foreign language proficiencies, you may want to consider moving to a country where you can practice and master your written and verbal communication skills. On the other hand, if you’d prefer to study in English, make sure to choose a destination fit for your needs
  • Visa requirements: Depending on where you’re from, you might need to acquire a visa to go abroad for degree. Before making your choice, research local immigration requirements and take note of all the necessary steps
  • Culture and business: While an international CV is always an asset, it’s important that you have a clear career plan in mind before making your decision. What continent or country would boost your chances of landing your dream job? What culture-specific skills do you need to acquire to be a competitive candidate? Once you’re able to answer these questions, choosing a destination will be much easier

Different countries, different environments

No two countries are the same – especially in Asia, the world’s largest and most populated continent.

Let’s take a look at the specifics.

China is one of the most popular non-Anglophone study destinations. Given its status as the world’s second-largest economy, largest exporter, and second-largest importer of goods, it boasts a plethora of local and international companies for students to network with. The country is also home to some of the top universities in the region, including Peking University, Tsinghua University and Fudan University.

In recent years, Japan has become a culturally-rich, sought-after destination for local and international students. The country is also the third-largest national economy in the world, home to renowned companies such as Toshiba, Nippon Steel, Sony and Nintendo. Some of the top schools in Japan include Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, Kyoto University and the University of Tokyo.

Hong Kong
Hong Kong has long been praised as an ideal study destination for international students thanks to its fusion of Eastern and Western traditions. The country is a leading world hub for finance, trade, logistics and commerce with easy access to mainland China. Hong Kong boasts some of the highest-ranked universities in Asia, including HKUSTBusiness School, the University of Hong Kong, the City University of Hong Kong and The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

The busy, densely populated city-state of Singapore is Asia’s center of research, innovation and logistics, as well as the world’s third-largest foreign exchange center and third-largest financial center, making it an ideal destination for international students . Some of the region’s top universities and business school are located in the city, including Singapore Management University, NUS Business School and Nanyang Business School.


Malaysia is one of the main industrial hubs of Southeast Asia and an ideal destination for international students, given its multi-ethnic and multilingual society. Some of the best universities in the country include University of Malaya and Sunway University.

Studying abroad during COVID-19

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many universities and business schools have adopted new methods of teaching, including Zoom lectures and interactive online projects.

Here’s how institutions in Asia are offering classes in 2020/2021:

Peking University

Peking University reopened its doors last month with an outdoor celebration to welcome the 2020 cohort of local and international students.

Tsinghua University

Tsinghua University began its fall semester with university-wide lectures last month. The university has decided to take a blended approach to learning combining online and offline teaching for local and international students.

Fudan University
Fudan University has reopened its campus in September with widespread safety measures to protect the student community.

Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University

OIST has reopened its doors in June with virus prevention measures – including free tracking and testing systems – in place.

Kyoto University

Kyoto University has resumed activities with a blend of in-person and online classes.

University of Tokyo

The University of Tokyo is offering most courses online, as in the previous semester, with additional in-person classes for local students.

HKUST Business School
HKUST is holding all activities online for the foreseeable future.

University of Hong Kong

The University of Hong Kong has reopened its doors with a blended approach. All classes are available online, but teachers can apply to hold classes in-person with adequate prevention measures in place.

City University of Hong Kong

CityU has reopened its campus for faculty, staff and students to resume in-person activities.

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has adopted a real-time interactive online teaching mode for all classes for the entire fall semester.

Singapore Management University

Singapore Management University has started the fall semester in time and with adequate precautions, including a plethora of online classes and reduced in-person activities.

Nanyang Business School
Nanyang Business School has reopened its doors to students with various precautionary measures in place to ensure the safety of the community. Although classes are held online, students and teachers can meet in person for tutorials and lab sessions.

NUS Business School
NUS Business School has taken the executive decision to postpone the start of its MBA program from September 2020 to January 2021. Accepted candidates have the option to defer while the situation evolves.

Singapore Management University
Singapore Management University has resumed some activities on campus; however, the majority of courses are currently being conducted fully online, with only a small proportion adopting a blended approach.

Sunway University

Sunway University has adopted a hybrid teaching approach, with widespread online learning and a handful of in-person classes taking place during the fall semester.

This article was originally published in October 2020 .

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