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7 scholarships to study for free in Japan, China and South Korea

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Yes, it's possible to study for free in some of the top universities in what's arguably the world's most exciting continent today. Source: Fred Dufour/AFP

There are many reasons why students flock to Asia. It is home to half of the world’s population,  culturally diverse areas, glorious food, affordable living costs and more.

You could spot K-drama stars in Seoul or climb Mount Hallsan in South Korea. Engulf yourself in the dizzying combination of reverence for tradition and the futuristic megalopolis capital of Japan. Follow the money to the glitzy malls of China, the world’s rising superpower.

A woman walks past a Gucci shop on a street in Beijing on April 13, 2021. Source: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP

With scholarships, you could study for free, explore this wondrous region and make a lifetime of memories:

Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship

The popular MEXT Scholarship is offered in six categories: research students, teacher training students, undergraduate students, Japanese studies students, college of technology students, specialised training college students. You must either be recommended by a Japanese embassy or consulate general or the Japanese university which will accept you (University Recommendation).

Research students and teacher trainees receive a stipend of 143,000 yen to 145,000 yen (US$1,295 to 1,314) per month. Recipients in all over categories get a monthly allowance of 117,000 yen (US$1,060). Tuition and round-trip airfare are covered as well.

scholarships in Asia

A train passes on the backdrop of buildings at a water front in Tokyo — an attractive student destination. Source: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP

The Great Wall Programme

This is a full scholarship by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, that is placed at the disposal of UNESCO for the academic year 2020-2021. Seventy-five (75) fellowships — for advanced studies at undergraduate and postgraduate levels — are open to applicants from developing Member States in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Europe and Arab region.

If you plan to pursue advanced studies or undertake individual research “with periodic guidance from the assigned supervisor in China” for one year, this is the programme for you.

Schwarzman Scholarship

This scholarship selects potential future leaders who want to understand China and the rest of the world on a deeper level at Tsinghua University in Beijing. The application period is between April and September, with the selection process starting in November. Classes start in August next year.

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The Schwarzman Scholarship selects students to represent the world’s next generation of leaders who want to understand China and the rest of the world on a deeper level at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Source: Alexey Nikolsky Sputnik/AFP

University of Tokyo Fellowship

Launched in 2004, the fellowship aims at “providing a research grant to high-achieving, postgraduate international students who are privately-funded to assist their academic pursuits at the University and at promoting a greater acceptance of excellent students from overseas.” The fellowship provides a monthly research grant of 200,000 yen (~US$1812) or 150,000 yen (~US$1359) during the standard period of their programme (up to one year for research students).

Korean Government Scholarship Program (KGSP)

The KGSP provides international students with a chance to study at higher education institutions in Korea for undergraduate and graduate studies. The purpose of this is to enhance education exchange and deepen the mutual friendship between Korea and other countries. The deadline to apply for this would be next year in March.

Global Korea Scholarship (GKS) for Exchange Students

This programme is aimed at incoming exchange students from developing countries to study in Korea. You stand to make meaningful memories as you learn about Korean culture and experience its education system. Application opened in March and is still ongoing. For more information, click here.

study for free

The Silk Road Scholarship is aimed at Indian students to study at Seoul National University in South Korea on graduate-level humanities or social science programmes. Source: Ed Jones/AFP

Silk-Road Scholarship

Indian students can study for free at Seoul National University with this scholarship. Recipients must pursue graduate-level humanities or social science programmes. The Cultural Foundation and Seoul National University award this scholarship to five students annually.