Chinese universities gain momentum in global rankings

Tsinghua University is seen in Beijing on August 27, 2019. (PHOTO / VCG)

Almost every Chinese university moved up in this year's global rankings, as the nation continues to invest heavily in creating more elite institutions of higher education.

Ninety-six percent of Chinese universities advanced in the latest standings, including all nine schools in the C9 League, the country's equivalent of the Ivy League. Tsinghua University was the highest placed at No 44.

The top three colleges this year were Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford in the United States followed by Cambridge and Oxford in the United Kingdom, according to the Centre for World University Rankings, or CWUR.

Though US colleges secured eight of the top 10 spots, 80 percent of its universities dropped down in the latest rankings. Nearly 60 percent of the UK's top universities also fell as they battle to retain their global prestige.

China's Double First-Class University Plan, aimed at creating a group of elite universities with esteemed disciplines by 2050, is putting pressure on the US and the UK, The Times of London newspaper reported.

Researchers at CWUR, based in the United Arab Emirates, said the UK's position has diminished due to increased competition in international markets.

"While the results of this year's study confirm that the UK has an outstanding higher education system, the broader story for the nation is concerning," said Nadim Mahassen, CWUR president.

CWUR ranks universities according to their quality of education and faculty, graduate employability and research output. British universities performed poorly in areas including research and the number of graduates taking executive roles at major companies.

Irene Tracey, vice-chancellor of Oxford University, told The Daily Telegraph newspaper that "significant investment and support given by countries like China" was the likely reason for some UK institutions falling in the rankings.

"We are in a global race, and unless we meet this challenge, UK universities' position as a science powerhouse and a key export is at risk," she said.

This year's rankings included 20,531 universities worldwide, with 95 countries represented in the Global 2,000 list. The US accounted for 16 of the top 20 universities. In the UK, University College London, Imperial College London and King's College London all featured in the Global 100 behind Cambridge and Oxford.