All Eyes on Shanghai: A Post-Covid Update

The cosmopolitan city of Shanghai has long been a popular destination for international students and graduates to live, work and study. But the Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the city, which experienced significant economic and social consequences, However, since the easing of lockdown restrictions and re-opening of China’s borders, the city is back to life. But is it the Shanghai we know and love? 

Our CEO at China Admissions, Richard Coward, recently visited Shanghai and met with students and alumni to discuss their experiences. He witnessed a remarkable resilience among the city and its people. “The mood in Shanghai has changed and people are optimistic,” he says. “It’s great seeing lots more foreigners in Shanghai.”

CEO of China Admissions, Richard Coward, recently met with students and alumni in Shanghai to discuss their experiences.

It is safe to say that Shanghai has resumed its position as an attractive destination to pursue education. In fact, the city has become more accessible and affordable for students than ever before. Here’s what you need to know. 

Travel & Visas 

A food stall in Shanghai drew many customers during Golden Week in 2023. (Image: Bloomberg)

It has now become easier for students to get a visa from abroad. On August 30, the country lifted major Covid-19 travel restrictions and allowed all international students with valid visas to enter. As of November 1, the requirement to fill out an Entry/Exit Health Declaration Card has also been lifted. This means that students can now travel to China more easily.

Shanghai recently saw a surge in domestic travel and spending during the Golden Week-cum-Mid-Autumn extended holiday. The city is also experiencing an increase in demand for Chinese tourist visas, especially from people in Canada, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Local businesses are benefiting from the rise in tourism and the city is thriving once again.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced a new visa-free entry policy for citizens of six countries: France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia. This policy allows eligible citizens to stay in China for up to 15 days anytime between December 1, 2023, and November 30, 2024. While this policy does not replace a student visa, it will allow prospective students the opportunity to experience Shanghai before committing to living and studying there.

An Active International Hub

Shanghai hosted the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in November 2023, successfully facilitating business relationships across borders. (Image: Casey Hall/Reuters)

In line with its reputation as a bustling international hub of trade and finance, Shanghai has been actively hosting and participating in global events since its return. In November 2021, the city hosted the China International Import Expo, which attracted more than 3,000 exhibitors and 400,000 buyers from over 150 locations. Similarly, in June 2022, the city hosted the World Artificial Intelligence Conference, featuring more than 500 speakers and 300 projects from the AI industry. These events provide a platform for international students and graduates to connect with global business leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators, and to explore new opportunities in Shanghai’s vibrant and dynamic market.

Improved International Student Support

Students in Shanghai shared their appreciation and hopes for the city with Richard.

The city has implemented new initiatives to provide additional support to international students following the pandemic. For example, the Shanghai Online Education Cloud Platform offers courses and useful resources on various topics, and the Shanghai International Student Service Center provides services such as psychological counseling, legal consultation, career guidance, and cultural activities.

Affordable, High-Quality Living

Financially, Shanghai has become more attractive than other global destinations with a similar high quality of life. Living costs for students are lower right now compared to pre-Covid figures.

“Rent has dropped by 25% making it one of the most affordable international cities in the world,” says Richard, “and food is extremely affordable compared to other international cities.”

For Shanghai’s high quality of life, these lower costs are alluring, especially when compared to international cities such as New York, London, Tokyo, and Paris. Among them, Shanghai has the lowest Cost of Living Index (which means expenses such as food, transportation, and clothing are cheaper), and the lowest accommodation and utility costs (for one person living in an average area).

Top Universities and Programs in Shanghai

Shanghai boasts many internationally recognized universities that offer high-quality education and research opportunities. Learn more about the notable universities and programs below, or browse the China Admissions platform to discover and apply to more.


What are the best universities in Shanghai?
5 Best Schools to Study Chinese in Shanghai in 2023

Top Universities:

Recommended Programs:


Kay contributes to the Marketing team at China Admissions. A "third-culture kid" based in Thailand, she has had lifelong exposure to international communities and has worked with top global brands. Having studied abroad herself, she encourages young minds to invest in their self-development and foster an appreciation for new countries and cultures.
Kay M

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