Chinese University Rankings

There is no official Chinese University ranking. However, there are a number of Chinese organizations and international publications who release university rankings annually.

– Top 10 Ranked Chinese Universities here
– 100 Most Popular Chinese Universities for International Students here.
– Top 20 Universities for Learning Chinese in China here

While rankings are helpful when choosing a university, it is important to evaluate the purpose of the ranking. You may also need to read what assessment methodology was used because it helps determine the rankings.

In China, Peking University and Tsinghua University are ranked #1 and #2. Both universities also rank high in global rankings and more Chinese Universities are entering world university rankings every year. In this article, we’re going to find out how Chinese universities are ranked!

How Are Chinese Universities Ranked?

Chinese Universities are ranked by domestic and international university ranking publications. There are two in China: CUAA and Wu Shulian. Internationally, the commonly cited international rankings of world universities come from ARWU, THE World Rankings and QS World Rankings. Learn more about each one of them here.

1) Chinese University Ranking Organizations

A. Chinese Universities Alumni Association (CUAA)

The CUAA ranking is quite simple. How many billionaires did the university produce? The top 20 Chinese universities based on billionaires in 2018 are:

Billionaires       Name of University

160                      Peking University
158                      Tsinghua University
104                      Zhejiang University
72                        Fudan University
51                        Renmin University of China
49                        Zhongshan University
47                        Shanghai Jiao Tong University
38                        Huanan University of and Technology
33                        Wuhan University
32                        Nanjing University
30                        Xiamen University
27                        Sichuan University
26                        Zhongnan University
26                        Huazhong University of Science and Technology
25                        Harbin Institute of Technology
25                        Southeast University
24                        Xian Jiao Tong University
24                        Nankai University
20                        Shenzhen University
20                        University of Electronic Science and Technology

You can find more information here (in Chinese).

B. Wu Shulian Ranking

The Chinese University Ranking, or Wu Shulian Ranking, is a research project by Wu Shulian. Wu Shulian is the leader of the “Chinese University Ranking” research group at the Chinese Academy of Management Science. Wu Shulian Ranking first released its university rankings in 1993. It is one of the most influential university rankings in China.

The main evaluation indicators of “2019 Chinese University Evaluation” are: China University Comprehensive Strength Ranking, Natural Science, Social Science Ranking, Science, Engineering, Agriculture, Medicine, Philosophy, Economics, Law, Education, Literature, History, Management 12 disciplines such as academics and art, 494 undergraduate professional rankings, Chinese university selection rankings, undergraduate employment quality rankings, undergraduate graduates rankings, teachers’ average academic rankings, Teacher performance rankings, new quality rankings.

Compared with previous years, the index system of “2018 Chinese University Evaluation” has been improved: new employment quality indicators for undergraduate graduates, school selection order indicators, and SCD citation database have been screened. (Xiong Xu Meng)

Check Wu Shulian 2018 China’s 758 universities comprehensive strength list top 400 here.

2) International University Ranking Organizations

A. Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU)

The ARWU (formerly known as the Shanghai Jiao Tong Rankings) first published its list of world university ranking in June 2003. It was spearheaded by the Center for World-Class Universities of Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU). SJTU is a leading university in China. In 2009, it was copyrighted by ShanghaiRanking Consultancy.

ARWU is widely considered the leading international ranking in China and often considered next to QS and THE international rankings. Note that the ARWU tends to be more heavily weighted towards research than teaching. Here’s a look at the Academic Ranking of World Universities 2020 by ARWU.

B. QS World Rankings

QS World Rankings is an annual university rankings publication by Quacquarelli Symonds. It was inaugurated in 2004 and has since released many comparative data about university performance across the world. The QS World Rankings recently released its World University Rankings for 2020, here’s an overview of the results:


C. Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings

THE World University Rankings is a publication under Times Magazine that releases world university rankings every year. The performance indicators used by THE are grouped into five areas: Teaching (the learning environment); Research (volume, income and reputation); Citations (research influence); International outlook (staff, students and research); and Industry income (knowledge transfer).

THE recently released its ranking for 2021. This is the general ranking for all subjects.

How Are Universities Classified In China?

Chinese Universities are classified according to four government projects: Project 211, Double First Class University Plan, Project 985 and the C9 League.

Project 211

This was established in 1985 and was designed for the top universities in China. The name of the project comes from the abbreviation of the Chinese slogan “For the 21st century, to manage 100 universities successfully”. With approximately 100 universities.

They receive the highest amount of funding. There are 116 universities in project 211, and between 1996 and 2000 around $2.2 Billion USD was distributed to these universities.

Double First Class University Plan

This was founded in 2015 and the target is to build 42 world class universities by 2050. It includes 36 class A universities, and 6 class B universities and the target is to build 465 first class class disciplines (spread out over 140 universities) . Further information and the full list can be found on the MOE website here

Project 985

This project 985 was founded in May 1998 (in Chinese 1998/5) hence the name 985. The plan was to promote the development and reputation of China’s higher education system. It involves funding from from local and national government to the development of facilities, conferences, and attracting talent for the 21st century.
The 9 founding members of this project are part of the C9 league.

C9 League

The C9 League is considered the leading universities and so receive a larger amount of funding. Member organizations of the C9 league include

  • Peking University
  • Tsinghua University
  • Fudan University
  • Shanghai Jiao Tong University
  • Harbin Institute of Technology
  • University of Science and Technology of China
  • Zhejiang University
  • Nanjing University
  • Xi’an Jiaotong University

For more information about Chinese university classifications, you can read our article here.

Are Rankings Important When Choosing A Chinese University?

Rankings can be helpful, however, it should not be the lone factor when deciding which Chinese University to study. Every university has different strengths and specializations. If you would like study engineering, it is advisable to choose a university with a strong reputation in the discipline or program of interest.

You might also want to consider student experiences from other international students. We feature a lot of student stories on our blog that you might want to read. World university rankings rarely measure student satisfaction so this is a good point to consider.

Choosing a university should not be all about prestige. It should be more of quality of education, happiness and outcomes.

Study In China For 2021 Intake!

Chinese Universities are now open for applications for 2021 intake. You can start your application here!

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