Shanghai Jiaotong University (SJTU) has released its fifth annual Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) which saw American universities take eight of the top ten spots. Harvard University emerged right on top, followed by Stanford University and University of California-Berkeley. Britain’s Oxford and Cambridge — the only two non-American universities to make it to the top ten — secured the fourth and tenth positions respectively. The top university in Asia was the University of Tokyo, edging in at the twentieth spot.
Within the Greater China region, the National Taiwan University emerged tops at 161st position. This was followed by the mainland’s Tsinghua University (167), Hong Kong’s Chinese University, City University, and the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology. Surprisingly Nanjing University (226) came out two spots above Beijing’s Peking University (228) – long hallowed as China’s top educational institution.
The ARWU ranks universities according to several indicators of academic or research performance, including alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, highly cited researchers, articles published in Nature and Science, articles indexed in major citation indices, and the per capita academic performance of an institution.
In explaining Peking University’s dismal performance, a researcher with SJTU’s Institute of Higher Education explained that because academic papers in sciences and engineering were much more easily published and cited than others, the ARWU’s ranking methodology was somewhat biased against universities such as Peking University which was stronger in humanities. In response, a spokesperson from Peking University has explained that it normally does not react to news on various world rankings of top universities, preferring to concentrate on what it does best (“只想做好自己的事儿”).
SJTU’s rankings was introduced for the first time five years ago and is not without its controversy. Anhui News columnist Cai Yijin questions:
What right and what authority does this mainland Chinese university have to rank the world’s top universities since it itself is a member of the education sector? How authoritative can its rankings be? What is the significance of this research project? A whole host of questions like these cloud my mind, and I cannot make sense of it.
In a letter sent to the state-owned People’s Daily, netizen Wang Qing had a few harsh words to say:
Yet another set of rankings have appeared. Not too long ago, the Research Center for China Science Evaluation released its rankings of the world’s most competitive universities which saw Peking Uni coming in at 192st position and Tsinghua Uni at 196st. In Newsweek’s rankings, none of the Chinese universities appeared among the top 100. It is not a shame to be behind others, what is more frightening is our indifference, our lack of ambition and our obstinacy in doing things our way…
If we were not frogs in the well and if we were to lay down our pride, we cannot but admit that there is a considerable gap between the top Chinese universities and the world’s premier educational institutions. Let’s not even mention Harvard, Stanfard and Yale, we are unable to even hold a candle to the likes of Tokyo Uni, Edinburgh Uni and the University of Munich. What Chinese universities lack today isn’t more fancy complexes and lecture halls, nor equipment and machinery, we don’t even need more professors. What we need is an independent spirit, freedom of thought and a pursuit of excellence.
SJTU: Academic Ranking of World Universities
SJTU: ARWU 2007 rankings
SJTU: ARWU 2007 rankings for Natural Sciences and Mathematics ( SCI )
SJTU: ARWU 2007 rankings for Engineering / Technology and Computer Sciences ( ENG )
SJTU: ARWU 2007 rankings for Life and Agriculture Sciences ( LIFE )
SJTU: ARWU 2007 rankings for Clinical Medicine and Pharmacy ( MED )
SJTU: ARWU 2007 rankings for Social Sciences ( SOC )
Anhui News: 拷问上海交大给全球高校排名的意义
People’s Daily: 王清：也谈清华北大名落“世界百强”之外