Peculiarities of admission and study at universities in Asian countries

When talking about education in Asia, one often speaks about China, South Korea, Japan and Singapore. These countries have a strong scientific base, and Asian universities are often ranked among the best universities in the world.

Entering a university and studying in Asian countries  has its own unique characteristics and challenges for international students.

Language barrier

In most Asian countries, English is not the official language of instruction. This can create additional difficulties for international students who do not have sufficient knowledge of the local language. In China, English-speaking programs take up around 30%.


When learning English at home, students often learn to understand British, American and Australian accents. Many Asian countries were formerly British colonies, so they have their own variations of English. For example, in Singapore, Singlish — a mixture of English, Malay, Chinese, Bengali — is ubiquitous. This can also affect your understanding of the local culture.

Entrance exams

In many Asian countries, such as China, Japan, and South Korea, admission to university requires passing difficult entrance exams. These exams may include tests in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and language. The level of competition is very high, and many students prepare for these exams for several years. Some exams may require the student to know the local language.

Different secondary education system

A Russian high school certificate may not be accepted everywhere, as some Asian universities require 12 years of schooling.

The grading and assessment system

In Asian institutions, grades play a major role and high grades are extremely important. International students may face stiff competition to maintain high academic performance.

Age limits

Many universities in China, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey have an age limit for undergraduate study — 21 to 35 years old.

Technical education

Many Asian countries are known for their focus on technical education and engineering. International students who choose technical majors can get a quality education and access to advanced technology.

More Lectures, Less Practice

Education in Asian countries consists of a larger number of lectures accompanied by a smaller amount of practice compared to European or American universities. There is also a high focus on independent study.

Compulsory extra classes

In some Asian institutions, students may be assigned additional compulsory classes or research projects to deepen their knowledge and skills.

Student support system

Many Asian universities provide various types of support to students, ranging from educational mentors to mentoring programs, to help them successfully adapt to their new environment and achieve academic success. In many Asian countries, universities are publicly funded, so there is a large number of scholarships and grants available.