A growing number of international students, both from within the region and further afield, are choosing to study in Asia. The continent’s economic and population booms have been accompanied by rapid growth in the higher education sector, leading to ever-more attractive options for prospective students.

Established education powerhouses like Japan and Hong Kong are seeing strong competition from more recently formed university hubs such as Singapore and South Korea – alongside, of course, the ever-increasing might of China. More top universities in Asia are to be found in Taiwan, Malaysia and India, with further opportunities in Thailand, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines and beyond.

Japan: Lessons from the land of the rising sun: Minenhle Mbandlwa: Class of 2017

As a public policy scholar whose interest is in the developmental agenda, Japanese education and local economic development has been the highlight of my two-year training. The Japanese experience made it clear for me that the type of education that South Africa has is one the reasons that leads to high youth unemployment, poverty and inequality. Investment in good quality education leads to the prosperity of any nation. The evidence from the Asian Tigers and other developed nations shows that good and quality education will produce individuals that are fit for developmental purposes and result in improved standards of living. 

The Japanese educational experience has given me a new meaning to education and the economy. It is impressive how educational outcome meets their economic demands. This is something we need to stress in South Africa and try to align education and the economy and place an emphasis on a strong entrepreneurial drive to create job opportunities for young people.

Clinical medicine in China: Sharissa Muniappe

Sharissa Muniappen's passion to study medicine was set back by the limited spaces available to study in a South African university. After completing the first year of a Bsc degree at the University of Witwatersrand, she applied to study for a degree in China

After applying on line through the website http:// Sharissa was delighted to be offered a place at Central South University in the City of Changsha in Hunan Province. Initially, Sharissa was self funded, which was extremely difficult financially, however, she was fortunate to be awarded a Chinese Government Scholarship. Sharissa said that the immediate challenge she experienced was the language barrier. However, as part of the study programme requirements, Sharissa attended Chinese language classes throughout the 5 ½years of her degree study programme. As the University caters for international students, all of the lectures were in English.

All international students are accommodated in self catering apartments on campus. Shopping for food was an additional immediate challenge. Sharissa said, “Dietary requirements made it difficult for me, due to the fact that I am vegetarian and food items I normally enjoyed were not available.”

“At times living in China was very difficult as I was far away from home, and I missed my family. I had to remember that I was there because I had a passion for medicine and I was determined to complete my degree. My positive mind set was really important as was the need to embrace Chinese culture and accept the differences I experienced,” said Sharissa.