Ranking China’s universities

China has around 2,000 formally recognised universities, ranging from small private highly specialised institutions through to large, comprehensive universities falling under the direct control of the Ministry of Education (MOE). Australian universities have been active in engaging with a range of these institutions, with the 2014 survey from Universities Australia showing that Australian universities have more than 1,200 formal agreements with Chinese universities, a 170% increase on the number of agreements with China in 2003.
 
In November 2015, China announced plans to develop a number of world class universities by 2020 with some universities to be among the best in the world by 2030 (see our recent article for more information on these plans). These plans build on China’s efforts since the mid-1990s to develop some of its universities to attain world class status under the “211” project and the more recent “985” project.
 
The “211” project (the name is an abbreviation of the 21st century and the approximate number of universities, 100) began in 1995 and saw funding given to more than 100 universities to develop their research standards and capacity. The MOE currently lists 112 universities (in Chinese) under the “211” project.
 
The “985” project (the name is derived from the date of the project, announced in May 1998 – or 98/5) has seen a number of universities (a subset of “211” project members) receive substantial additional funding to promote the growth and reputation of China’s higher education system. Initially, nine universities were selected under the “985” project (these nine research intensive universities are also referred to as the C9 universities or the C9 League), with an additional 30 universities being added under a second phase of the “985” project in 2004. The MOE lists all 39 universities (in Chinese) taking part in the “985” project.
 
Institutions in the “211” project, and particularly those in the “985” and the C9, are generally seen in China to be the most prestigious and highest quality universities in China.
 
Globally, there are three commonly cited international rankings of world universities – the Academic Rankings of World Universities (or ARWU – formerly known as the Shanghai Jiao Tong Rankings), the Times Higher Education World Rankings, and the QS World Rankings. Looking at these rankings Chinese universities perform relatively well, with 32 universities being listed in the top 500 in the world in the 2015 ARWU rankings, 37 listed in the top 800 in the world in the 2015 Times Higher Education rankings and 30 listed in the top 650 in the world in the 2015 QS rankings.  China had only nine universities listed in the top 500 in the world in the first ARWU rankings produced in 2003, and 25 in the top 700 in the 2013 QS rankings.
 
All nine C9 universities appear in each of the three major 2015 international rankings, with four of them making the top 100 on the QS rankings, and two making the top 100 on the Times Higher Education rankings. No Chinese universities make the top 100 on the ARWU rankings.
 
Almost all (35 out of 39) “985” universities appear on at least one of the major 2015 international rankings, as do eight other “211” universities and three universities that are not members of the “211” project.
 
A composite table showing all of the “985” universities with their global rankings, along with the 11 non-“985” universities that appear on at least one world ranking list is shown below as table 1.
 
In addition to the international rankings, there are also a number of rankings of universities produced by organisations within China, focusing on different aspects of university performance. Two of the most highly regarded rankings are those compiled by the Chinese University Alumni Association (CUAA) and the China Academic Degrees and Graduate Education Development Centre (CDGDC – an MOE affiliate organisation).
 
The CUAA compiles rankings each year, taking universities’ teaching staff and resources, scientific research level, talent training quality and reputation as indicators, basing the evaluation on a combination of calculation of publicly available data, materials submitted by the institution, and peer review. The CUAA has compiled a 2015 ranking of the top Chinese universities, which is shown below as table 2.
 
The CDGDC produce a ranking of Chinese universities by field and discipline, which is published every four years. The latest ranking is for 2012, and shows the top ten universities for each of eleven disciplines across four broad fields. The ranking is shown below as table 3. The next ranking is expected to be released at some stage next year.
 
For China, the Chinese government’s investment in universities through its “211” and “985” projects, and its latest plan to develop a world class higher education system, means that the research capability and international reputation of its best universities are growing rapidly. Even in some universities that are not yet highly ranked in the international rankings, there are growing pockets of research strength in some areas.
 
The three commonly cited international university rankings and the Chinese-specific rankings produced by CUAA and CDGDC together provide Australian universities and research organisations with a useful starting point for identifying the right Chinese partner universities that are either strong overall or in specific areas of interest.
 
For further enquiries, please contact Mr Christopher Lawson, First Secretary (Education and Research), Australian Embassy in Beijing.
 
 

Table 1. Chinese institutions in major global rankings (sorted alphabetically, including all “985” institutions)

 
Institution
ARWU Ranking
Times Higher Education World Rankings
QS World Rankings
C9
985
211
Beihang University
301-400
NR
381
Yes
Yes
Beijing Institute of Technology
NR
601-800
401-410
Yes
Yes
Beijing Normal University
201-300
NR
232
Yes
Yes
Capital Medical University
401-500
601-800
NR
Central South University
301-400
NR
NR
Yes
Yes
China Agricultural University
301-400
501-600
NR
Yes
Yes
China University of Geosciences (Wuhan)
NR
601-800
NR
Yes
China University of Petroleum (Beijing)
NR
601-800
NR
Yes
Chongqing University
NR
601-800
NR
Yes
Yes
Dalian University of Technology
301-400
601-800
NR
Yes
Yes
East China Normal University
NR
501-600
551-600
Yes
Yes
East China University of Science and Technology
401-500
401-500
471-480
Yes
Fudan University
151-200
201-250
51
Yes
Yes
Yes
Harbin Institute of Technology
201-300
501-600
291
Yes
Yes
Yes
Huazhong University of Science and Technology
201-300
501-600
441-450
Yes
Yes
Hunan University
NR
601-800
NR
Yes
Yes
Jilin University
201-300
601-800
451-460
Yes
Yes
Lanzhou University
301-400
NR
601-650
Yes
Yes
Minzu University
NR
NR
NR
Yes
Yes
Nanjing University
201-300
251-300
130
Yes
Yes
Yes
Nanjing Medical University
401-500
NR
NR
Nankai University
301-400
NR
277
Yes
Yes
National University of Defence Technology
NR
NR
NR
Yes
Yes
Northeastern University
NR
NR
NR
Yes
Yes
Northwestern Polytechnical University
NR
601-800
NR
Yes
Yes
Northwest Sci-Tech University of Agriculture and Forestry
NR
NR
NR
Yes
Yes
Ocean University of China
NR
601-800
NR
Yes
Yes
Peking University
101-150
42
41
Yes
Yes
Yes
Peking Union Medical College
401-500
NR
NR
Yes
Renmin University of China
NR
501-600
441-450
Yes
Yes
Shandong University
301-400
NR
551-600
Yes
Yes
Shanghai Jiao Tong University
101-150
301-350
70
Yes
Yes
Yes
Shanghai University
NR
601-800
411-420
Yes
Shantou University
NR
601-800
NR
Sichuan University
301-400
601-800
491-500
Yes
Yes
Soochow University
401-500
501-600
NR
Yes
South China University of Technology
301-400
501-600
551-600
Yes
Yes
Southeast University
301-400
NR
461-470
Yes
Yes
Sun Yat-sen University
151-200
351-400
307
Yes
Yes
Tianjin University
301-400
501-600
421-430
Yes
Yes
Tongji University
301-400
501-600
345
Yes
Yes
Tsinghua University
101-150
47
25
Yes
Yes
Yes
University of Electronic Science and Technology
NR
601-800
NR
Yes
Yes
University of Science and Technology Beijing
NR
601-800
551-600
Yes
University of Science and Technology of China
151-200
201-250
113
Yes
Yes
Yes
Wuhan University
301-400
401-500
273
Yes
Yes
Xiamen University
301-400
401-500
401-410
Yes
Yes
Xi'an Jiaotong University
201-300
501-600
331
Yes
Yes
Yes
Xidian University
NR
601-800
NR
Yes
Zhejiang University
101-150
251-300
110
Yes
Yes
Yes
 
Note: NR means not ranked.

 

Table 2. 2015 Chinese University CUAA Rankings

 
Rank
Institution
Overall Score
Talent Training Quality
Academic Reputation
Social Influence
1
Peking University
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00
2
Tsinghua University
98.23
97.15
99.68
98.57
3
Fudan University
82.22
83.26
81.22
81.32
4
Wuhan University
81.88
82.01
81.48
82.23
5
Renmin University of China
81.67
82.56
79.90
82.38
6
Zhejiang University
81.66
81.73
82.33
80.40
7
Shanghai Jiaotong University
81.44
81.75
82.29
79.32
8
Nanjing University
80.87
81.13
79.83
81.97
9
University of Science and Technology of China
75.88
75.55
76.86
75.13
10
National University of Defense Technology
75.75
74.08
81.45
70.56
11
Jilin University
75.68
78.41
74.66
70.66
12
Beijing Normal University
75.31
75.02
75.36
75.97
13
Nankai University
75.08
74.78
76.77
73.09
14
Sun Yat-sen University
75.07
75.40
74.79
74.69
15
Sichuan University
75.04
76.74
74.12
72.39
16
Huazhong University of Science and Technology
74.98
76.72
74.43
71.63
17
Xi’an Jiao Tong University
74.31
75.16
73.77
73.10
18
Tongji University
73.07
74.64
68.61
76.51
19
Central South University
73.02
74.33
71.68
72.00
20
Harbin Institute of Technology
72.74
74.57
70.17
72.43
21
Shandong University
72.45
74.30
71.22
69.94
22
Xiamen University
72.32
72.50
70.71
74.53
23
Southeast University
71.54
73.98
68.09
71.19
24
Tianjin University
71.53
71.91
70.05
73.01
25
Chongqing University
70.92
71.23
68.02
74.92
26
Beihang University
70.88
70.63
70.97
71.38
27
East China Normal University
69.95
69.97
69.74
70.26
28
Northeastern University
69.11
70.06
66.81
70.52
29
Beijing Institute of Technology
68.80
69.22
66.54
71.45
30
Central China Normal University
68.62
68.09
68.74
69.71

 

 

 

Table 3. 2012 CDGDC China Discipline Rankings

 
Field
Discipline
Rank and Institution
Arts and Humanities
Law
No.1
Renmin University of China
No.2
China University of Political Science and Law
No.3
Peking University
No.4
Wuhan University
No.5
East China University of Political Science and Law
No.6
Southeast China University of Political Science and Law
No.7
Tsinghua University
No.8
Jilin University
No.9
Zhongnan University of Economics and Law
No.10
Xiamen University
Journalism and Communication
No.1
Renmin University of China
No.2
Communication University of China
No.3
Fudan University
No.4
Wuhan University
No.5
Tsinghua University
No.6
Huazhong University of Science and Technology
No.7
Sichuan University
No.8
Peking University
No.9
Jinan University
No.10
Shanghai Jiao Tong University
Psychology
No.1
Beijing Normal University
No.2
Peking University
No.3
East China Normal University
No.4
South China Normal University
No.5
Southwest University
No.6
Zhejiang University
No.7
Tianjin Normal University
No.8
Central China Normal University
No.9
Nanjing Normal University
No.10
Central South University
Theoretical Economics
No.1
Renmin University of China
No.2
Peking University
No.3
Wuhan
University
No.4
Nankai University
No.5
Fudan University
No.6
Nanjing University
No.7
Zhejiang University
No.8
Xiamen University
No.9
Sun Yat-sen University
No.10
Jilin University
Applied Economics
No.1
Renmin University of China
No.2
Peking University
No.3
Central University of Finance and Economics
No.4
Fudan University
No.5
Xiamen University
No.6
Tsinghua University
No.7
Nankai University
No.8
Shanghai University of Finance and Economics
No.9
South-western University of Finance and Economics
No.10
Dongbei University of Finance and Economics
Sciences
Biology
No.1
Tsinghua University-Peking Union (Medical College School of Medicine Tsinghua University)
No.2
Peking University
No.3
Fudan University
No.4
Shanghai Jiao Tong University
No.5
Nanjing University
No.6
University of Science and Technology of China
No.7
Wuhan University
No.8
China Agricultural University
No.9
Nankai University
No.10
Huazhong Agricultural University

Field
Discipline
Rank and Institution
Engineering and Technology
Civil Engineering
No.1
Tongji University
No.2
Harbin Institute of Technology
No.3
Tsinghua University
No.4
Southeast University
No.5
Zhejiang University
No.6
Hunan University
No.7
Central South University
No.8
Beijing University of Technology
No.9
Tianjin University
No.10
Dalian University of Technology
Electric Engineering
No.1
University of Electronic Science and Technology of China
No.2
Southeast University
No.3
Peking University
No.4
Tsinghua University
No.5

Xidian University
No.6
Shanghai Jiao Tong University
No.7
Fudan University
No.8
Nanjing University
No.9
Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications
No.10
Xi'an Jiaotong University
Architecture
No.1
Tsinghua University
No.2
Southeast University
No.3
Tianjin University
No.4
Tongji University
No.5
South China University of Technology
No.6
Harbin Institute of Technology
No.7
Xi'an University of Architecture and Technology
No.8
Chongqing University
No.9
Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture
No.10
Dalian University of Technology
Information and Communication Engineering
No.1
Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications
No.2
University of Electronic Science and Technology of China
No.3
Xidian University
No.4
Tsinghua University
No.5
Shanghai Jiao Tong University
No.6
Southeast University
No.7
National University of Defence Technology
No.8
Beijing Jiaotong University
No.9
Beijing Institute of Technology
No.10
Beihang University
Management
Business Administration
No.1
Renmin University of China
No.2
Xi'an Jiaotong University
No.3
Tsinghua University
No.4
Sun Yat-sen University
No.5
Xiamen University
No.6
Peking University
No.7
Nankai University
No.8
Dalian University of Technology
No.9
Shanghai Jiao Tong University
No.10
Shanghai University of Finance and Economics