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Chinese universities enjoy world ranking success

By Wang Mingjie in London | | Updated: 2020-09-03 04:07
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Tsinghua University [Photo/Xinhua]

Tsinghua University has become the first-ever Asian university to enter the top 20 of the Times Higher Education's World University Rankings, after recording joint 20th place in the latest edition, published on Wednesday.

It was a good day all round for institutions on the Chinese mainland, with a record number placed in the top 100.

In the 2021 rankings, Tsinghua University moved up 3 places from last year's position, with a record 1,527 institutions qualifying this time round, a 9 percent increase on the 2020 total of 1,397.

The University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom, retained top spot for the fifth consecutive year.

In addition to Tsinghua, other Chinese institutions performing well included Peking University (23rd), Fudan University (joint 70th), Zhejiang University, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (100th), all of which have improved their positions since last year.

This has resulted in a record number of six Chinese mainland universities being in the top 100 for the first time since the rankings began in 2011, doubling China's representation since last year.

Of the seven Chinese universities that achieved a top 200 place in 2020, 85 percent improved their position in the latest table, as the universities of the Chinese mainland continue to challenge the world's best.

The movement of universities from the Chinese mainland and the United States ranked between 201 and 300 in the tables over the last five years clearly demonstrates China's growing strength in the global knowledge economy, as the US appears to be in a steady decline.

"We have observed the rise of Asian universities in the world rankings for several years now, but this year marks a major milestone, as Chinese mainland disrupts the traditional domination of Western universities at the top of the table, breaking into the top 20 for the first time, and doubling its representation in the top 100," said Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer at the Times Higher Education.

"This positive movement for Chinese mainland universities looks as though it will continue, particularly as we navigate the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic. With a likely decrease in the international flow of students and staff around the world, and possible funding challenges among the West's established higher education sectors, we could see China, and Asia more widely, capitalise," he continued.

"If homegrown talent from China stays in China instead of making its traditional migration to elite Western institutions, particularly in the US and the UK, we could see the start of a dramatic rebalancing of the global knowledge economy."

In terms of representation, the US has the highest total of qualifying universities in the top 200 with 59, followed by the UK (29) and Germany (21). The Chinese mainland also recorded its highest total of institutions in the top 200, with seven in that group.

The Times Higher Education's World University Rankings 2021 saw 141 universities qualify for the first time. India has the highest total of debutant universities with 14, closely followed by the US (13), Chinese mainland (10), Russia and Japan (both 9), and Iran (8).

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