What’s the difference: Hainan Normal University and Hainan University

Haikou is the provincial capital of tropical Hainan province and home to two major universities; Hainan Normal University and Hainan University. In this blogpost I will introduce both of these universities and give you the information you need to make the right choice.

Let’s look first at Hainan Normal University.

Hainan Normal University

Hainan Normal University, or 海南师范大学 (Hainan Teachers’ University) is located in the south of the city. The university is commonly known as 海师 hai-shi around the city.

The academic year at HNU is split into two terms. The first runs from the start of September, with registration for new and returning students in the first week of September and then term beginning the first Monday of the second week in September. The term ends the third week of January for the Chinese New Year holiday.

Although the university was established in 1949, most of the HNU campus buildings are from the 1970s and 80s. All foreign students are entitled to live on campus in the 留学生公寓 ‘study abroad student flats’. This 11 story building actually isn’t solely reserved for said foreign students, in fact, the first couple of floors are for the school students who are boarding at the primary school which is located on campus, above them a further 3 floors for Chinese students;  finally floors 6-11 are for foreign students. The rooms are all 2 person sharing, although it is possible to live alone if you pay for two. The price is approximately 2,000 RMB per semester (£200) per person for an open plan room (one big room, 2 beds, shared bathroom). For tuituion, the fee is 6,000 RMB (£600) per semester.

Opposite the student’s dormitory is a large running track, astroturf football pitch, Olympic size swimming pool and diving boards. Behind this sports complex are several tennis and volleyball courts as well as an indoor sports center.

For language students, lessons are all taken in the same building, a 5 minute walk from the dormitory. The campus includes a library as well as many small shops for buying snacks and study supplies. There are several canteens selling various kinds of Chinese food across campus.

HNU is roughly 10 miles (16km) from the Haikou railway station and 4 miles from the city center, which should cost around 35RMB (£3.50) and 15RMB (£1.50) respectively, if you were to take a taxi . Next to the university are several food streets, bars, KTVs, massage parlous and a 5 star hotel.

Hainan University

Hainan University 海南大学, is known locally as 海大 hai-da. It is located to the very north of the city, on Haidian Island.

The academic year, like HNU is also split into two terms, but unlike HNU, Hainan University breaks up on the 24th December for language students, meaning that you get less learning for your lolly, but do get to celebrate the Christmas holiday as you please.

The registration period is the first week of September and term proper starts the first Monday of the second week. During registration, your Chinese level will be assessed and you will be put into different sets, running from A class, for those who have not studied Chinese before, to F class, for those that are nearing fluency and should be able to pass the HSK Level 6 exam.

Classes run from 7.40 in the morning to 11.20. There are two classes of approximately 2 hours, with a ten minute break in after one hour, then a 20 minute break after the first class is finished. A, B and C classes have the most students with approximately 30 in each class. D also has around 30 students. E and F classes have around 10 students. In the second term it is expected for you to go up to the next class, therefore in term 2 there will be more than 10 students in E class. The tuition fee for the year is 12,000 RMB (£1,200).

The class itself takes the form of a lecture. Chinese education has its foundations in the Confucian school, which limits student participation, but does provide the students with a lot of information. The result of this is that the lessons can feel very dry. The teachers from D class will only use Chinese as the language of instruction, so if you turn up, listen, pay attention, you will learn a lot. The teachers go over the key words, phrases and grammatical ideas in a lot of detail.

The beautiful Hainan University grounds contain two lakes and acres of forests and fields perfect for walking, jogging or studying in. Here, it is very easy to forget that you are in a city of over a million people. This huge campus is 1.5km (1 mile) from the North to the South Gate and 2km from the East to West. In fact because of these distances, the university operates a road-train/bus service for a flat 1 RMB (10p) fee (pay when you get on board); its not a bad idea to buy a bike.

Onto the important part – the dormitory. It is located around 500 meters from the South Gate and 1km from the teaching building. The dormitory building is new, has 6 floors and around 50 rooms per floor. Each room is single-occupancy, meaning you won’t have to share (!) each room has a bathroom, bedroom/living space and a balcony. The university charge 3,300 RMB (£330) for a semester (September to December 24, March to end of June, there is a 1000 RMB fee if you would like to remain on campus over the winter holiday.)

There is a supermarket on campus, 15 university run canteens and many other independently run shops and restaurants which all helps to make the campus really feel like its own small town! Only 10 minutes from the dormitory is the sports stadium, and a little on from there are astroturf courts where people meet to play football every day from 4.30 and opposite these, basketball courts where people congregate to play. There is also a swimming pool and indoor sports center.

Getting from the train station to the university by taxi is around 35 RMB and to the airport 50 RMB. The campus is a 15 minute walk to the Baishamen beach and amusement park and only a 15RMB taxi ride from the hive of Haikou; Guomao, the home of shopping and clubbing.

I hope that this review of the two universities will help make your mind up about where to study and help you make the choice that’s right for you. If you have any questions, please do ask. 9359371006

The annual sports competition takes place in the 7,000 seater sports stadium. The opening ceremony includes a march-by by the army and other schools. The schools around the stadium have stands where you can talk to them and learn more about what they do, the school in the third picture is the School of Marxism.


    • Hey Verena, good question, there are 6 levels in all, with A being for beginners and F being the most advanced class. The maximum in a class is 25 students, so for A-C class there are 2 or so classes running (A1 + A2 etc.) but for D, E and F its less. For example, I am in E class, there are officially 21 students, but often a maximum of 12 show up.

      I would really recommend coming to Hainan University, I did well over a years research and found this to be the best one, now that I’m here I have absolutely no regrets 🙂

  1. Pingback: Haikou | Follow Morris

  2. Hello 🙂 I am going to study Mandarin at Hainan University from this September 2015, and this was a really informative post! Are you still studying there? I was wondering how the sports facilities are like at Hainan University? For example, do students have access to a gym/ running tracks/ swimming pool? Also, do you know if the language test that we take at the beginning of the year will be based on both listening, writing and speaking?

    Thank you!


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