Chinese has overtaken French, Spanish and German to become one of the most lucrative foreign languages for jobseekers in the UK.
Research shows graduates in Chinese earn an average yearly salary of 31,000 pounds or more.
For students today, saddled with rising debt, a degree in Chinese promises to set them apart in the workplace.
Chinese students set themselves up for a different university experience from their peers who are taking traditional subjects. While an English student may have as little as six hours of contact time a week, those studying Mandarin are in class for most of the day.
"I had a lot of friends on other courses who didn't do much in first or second year. You can't blag Chinese. You literally have to spend hours and hours writing characters," says Hannah Jackson, who graduated in Chinese Studies from Sheffield University in 2009.
"The first year was really difficult. Most of my friends admitted at one point to crying in the first week because of the intensity. I was almost told at one point that I might want to reconsider and drop out."
Liberty Timewell, who graduated in Chinese from Cambridge University in 2012, spent at least eight hours a day studying during her degree, which increased to 18 hours a day at times during her finals.
So are the evenings in spent learning characters while your friends are at the student bar really worth it? Despite the ups and downs of their degrees, the two graduates think so.
They each use Chinese in their chosen careers, and would not be in the jobs they do now without their knowledge of the language.
Liberty now works for the civil service in Beijing. She earned a place on the Department for International Development graduate scheme a month after finishing her degree, and was earning a salary of over 30,000 pounds within two years.
"The degree was absolutely worth it. The slog has paid off," she says.