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China Leads the Way on QS University Rankings: BRICS

London, June 18th 2014 – Chinese universities Tsinghua and Peking University claimed the top two spots in the 2014 QS University Rankings: BRICS.   Seven of China’s C9 League institutions make the top 10 in this year’s BRICS ranking, suggesting that the policies to support research-intensive centers of excellence is starting to pay some dividends.

Fudan University took the 4th spot, University of Science and Technology of China the 5th, Nanjing University the 6th, Shanghai Jiao Tong University the 8th and Zhejiang University perched the9th place. The two lower ranked members of the C9 League are Xi'an Jiaotong University (20th) and Harbin Institute of Technology (29th).

China’s dominance reflects government investments in the last two decades and its clear goals:  greater inclusion and the development institutions to rival the likes of the Ivy League in the US and Oxbridge in the UK.

The country tripled its higher education expenditure in a decade and total student enrolment grew by a staggering 660% over a 12-year period between 1998 and 2010, leaping from 3.4 million to 22.3 million.  To put that in perspective, going from a student body roughly equal to the population of Panama, to one roughly equal to the population of Australia.

However there are still improvements to be made in two indicators, the student/faculty ratio and publication in English language academic journals, said Danny Byrd, senior editor of topuniversities.com:  “The rankings show that there are areas for improvement. Tsinghua and Peking have improved their student/faculty ratio scores this year, but generally this is an area where Chinese institutions perform poorly.

Despite increased funding for research, staff hiring has not increased to match student enrolment in the past decade.” And its research has yet to grab the spotlight, continues Byrne: “Another long-standing issue for Chinese institutions is a lack of research impact compared to their Western rivals. In the QS World University Rankings neither Peking nor Tsinghua makes the top 200 for research citations, with no Chinese institution making the global top 100.”

China now has the largest higher education sector in the world, having overtaken the USA in 2007. Along the way it has created hundreds of new institutions at all levels of the sector, as well as helping meet the country’s secondary goal through establishing a top tier of elite institutions: the C9 League. 

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