Photo courtesy of The University of Waterloo

Learn | 02.01.2022

Why African Students Are Studying Their PhDs In China

Ghana's global university rankings are falling as students head to China for their PhD.

A huge portion of African students decided to move east for their studies and get their PhD’s in China. Despite having their own universities back home, Ghanaian students are specifically looking to attend Chinese universities to have access to top-tier international academic journals. 

This trend started when the Chinese Government set a variety of scholarships to intrigue international students. China’s schooling is known to have a rather easy application process. However, the most influential aspect is the high acceptance rate compared to schools in Europe and the US, where prices for schooling are through the roof, and the opportunity to receive a scholarship to study abroad doesn’t come knocking every day. 

Photo courtesy of Quartz Africa

According to Quartz, not only is China the largest single provider of university scholarships to students from sub-Saharan Africa, but the country also makes up for 40% of all scholarships given to students from the region. But is there a deeper meaning behind this? Might China have a greater influence on students?

Because the entire teaching method and approach to schooling is vastly different in China than in Ghana, Ghanaian students who receive their PhD then return home to a considerably different learning and teaching environment. More Ghanaian students receiving their PhD in China could mean a huge shift in China’s influence on the African learning culture.

Quartz noted an interesting fact that shows just how many Ghanian students are heading to school in China. In 2018, 800 Ghanaians received their PhD in China, up from 200 in 2017. Fast forward to 2019, that number jumped to 2,200. These numbers also trigger the question, why so many Ghanaian students to begin with?

Photo courtesy of Zhengzhou University

Traditionally speaking, Ghanaian universities have built a reputation for themselves for having inflexible and rigorous exams and a lack of supervision and guidance on larger assignments. For many, finding a happy medium between research and teaching can be rather tricky. 

However, the main concern is how Ghana’s global university rankings are falling because they don’t have access to international academic journals. This results in less participation from Ghanaian scientists and researchers because their journals aren’t as broadly shared. 

On the other hand, China has become well known for having demanding yet flexible research environments, according to Quartz. Interestingly, an integral part of China’s schooling method is ensuring they publish in renowned and sought-after journals. 

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