Chinese universities have succeeded once again in making a positive global impression, as illustrated by an impressive showing in the 2017 Times Higher Education (THE) World Reputation Rankings. According to the recently published list, six universities in mainland China rank among the top 100 schools around the globe.
The World Reputation Rankings are based on data collected through a survey in which THE, a London-based weekly magazine focused on higher education, asks approximately 10,000 scholars, specializing in a broad range of academic disciplines, to list the schools which they believe are doing the best work, both in research and in teaching.
Apparently, Tsinghua University has had an especially notable year, rising in the ranks from #18 last year to the #14 spot on the annual report this year; putting one of China’s most prestigious institutions right between the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Michigan on the list, as well as ahead of schools like the University College London, the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell.
One of the many reasons that Tsinghua’s rise to global prominence is so stunning is because of how rapidly it has taken place. Since 2011, when THE began its World Reputation Rankings, Tsinghua has managed to climb all the way up from the #35 spot. As Phil Baty, a rankings editor at THE, explained to the Wall Street Journal, any movement on the list of more than a couple places is noteworthy, which makes Tsinghua’s 21 seat climb in six years all the more impressive. Other Chinese institutions which made the top 100 list include:
– Peking University (#17)
– Zhejiang University (#51-60)
– Fudan University (#71-80)
– Shanghai Jiao Tong University (#71-80)
– Nanjing University (#91-100)
In recent years, Chinese universities have been reliably rising up global university rankings. However, some of these rankings, like the QS World University rankings, have come under fire for using potentially flawed methodology. While such organizations are often accused of underselling the accomplishments of non-Western institutions, the Times Higher Education poll may reflect the manner in which a school’s reputation can precede its actual accomplishments. 33% of the responses to the magazine’s survey received from the scholars surveyed came from the Asia Pacific region, and although THE claims to receive responses which are “evenly spread” across academic disciplines, the data collected was concerned primarily with scientific disciplines. The combination of attention from specific geographic and academic regions could help to explain Tsinghua’s exceptionally rapid ascent in the rankings.
No matter the ranking of China’s most prestigious academic institutions by these scholarly popularity contests, the advancement of the academic rigor in China’s universities is undeniable. As the standard for universities improves with each year, it is no surprise that Chinese schools are attracting more and more international attention.
By Emma Abrams
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