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Chinese universities achieve highest ever place in major global rankings

By WANG MINGJIE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-09-02 09:12
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Graduates attend the 2019 commencement ceremony of Tsinghua University held in Beijing, capital of China, July 7, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

Tsinghua University and Peking University have jointly achieved the Chinese mainland's highest-ever ranking position, tying for 16th place, in the latest edition of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

In the 2022 list, Tsinghua and Peking climbed four and seven places respectively from last year's placing, to jointly claim the Chinese mainland's highest-ever finish and, for the first time, give it two institutions in the top 20. The United Kingdom's University of Oxford retained top spot, for the sixth consecutive year.

A record number of 10 universities from the Chinese mainland were in the top 200, despite a record 1,662 institutions being included in the table this time around, 136 more than last year.

In addition, 90 percent of Chinese mainland universities in the top 200 improved their previous ranking, and eight made their debut, taking the Chinese mainland's total representation to a record 97 universities.

The Chinese mainland is the 4th most represented country or region in the 2022 rankings, behind only the United States (183), Japan (118), and the UK(101).

In a year overshadowed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the rankings reflect the vital role of universities in understanding and managing the crisis, as a number of institutions saw significant boosts in their citation scores from COVID-19-focused research, including no fewer than 11 Chinese mainland universities. Among them, Huazhong University of Science and Technology (181st), Southern Medical University (401-500), Capital Medical University (501-600), and Wenzhou Medical University (601-800) all move up at least two ranking bands.

Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer at the Times Higher Education, said: "The world's elite universities have enjoyed a long period of dominance at the top of the table with help from historic reputation, global status, and reliable income. But our data shows us there are clear shifts happening across higher education around the world, and perhaps most rapidly in the Chinese mainland.

"Last year, we witnessed the Chinese mainland achieve a top 20 position for the first time. This year, we see it double its representation in the group as Tsinghua University and Peking University both tie in the highest position ever for the country," Baty said.

"Chinese mainland institutions have continued to improve in THE's World University Rankings despite the global pandemic. It will be interesting to witness what happens in the post-pandemic world, and whether the Chinese mainland can challenge the US and UK's long-running dominance in the global top 10."

Outside the Chinese mainland, the top 10 ranking positions are held by the same universities for a second consecutive year despite some movement within the band.

The US(8) and UK (2) claim all top 10 positions.

California Institute of Technology (=2nd), and Harvard University (=2nd) in the US both move up, while the UK's University of Cambridge (=5th) climbs back into the top 5 after dropping to 6th last year. Princeton University in the US (7th) also improves, moving up two places.

This year, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Singapore, New Zealand and China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region all claimed their best finishes in the top 200 since the current methodology was introduced in 2016, as Japan's University of Tokyo (=35th), Hong Kong's University of Hong Kong (=30th), South Korea's Seoul National University (=54th), Singapore's National University of Singapore (21st), New Zealand's University of Auckland (=137th) and Russia's Lomonosov Moscow State University (=158th) all moved up the table.

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