THE China Subject Ratings 2020: results announced

New tables reveal that Chinese universities are on a par with those in the UK, the US and Germany when it comes to performance across 89 subjects 

July 16, 2020
Source: Getty

Browse the full results of the China Subject Ratings 2020


The rapid development of Chinese research since the beginning of the century has been one of the major trends in global science and technology.

It has helped to push the country’s universities ever higher in tables such as the Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings, including two that are now firmly in the top 30 – Tsinghua and Peking.

THE’s new China Subject Ratings demonstrate exactly how this research expertise is concentrated and how it has propelled the system to a position where it comfortably sits alongside other nations.

Overall, the country scores an average grade of B+ in its subject ratings, above the global average of B. This is on a par with other large developed systems of higher education like the UK, the US and Germany and ahead of others, most notably France, South Korea and Russia.

Chinese universities also score above average in 70 out of 89 subjects with an impressive number of A grades across many different disciplines: 46 per cent of its institutions’ grades were A+, A or A-, only slightly behind the US (49 per cent) and well ahead of other BRICS nations like Russia (37 per cent) and India (6 per cent).

A detailed analysis of the ratings, which feature 1,355 universities including 80 in mainland China, confirms that the strong overall performance by mainland China can be attributed to a cluster of subjects, often related to physical sciences such as engineering, where its institutions excel.

For instance, almost 40 per cent of its ratings in the subject area of mechanics are an A+, with only Germany out of the larger developed research nations achieving a similar proportion.

Other subjects where mainland Chinese universities score, on average, above an A- include: atmospheric sciences; aerospace science and technology; and both biomedical and chemical engineering.

In biomedical engineering, 14 of the 34 ratings (41 per cent) for the subject across mainland China are an A+, while 15 out of 39 (38 per cent) in mechanics score the top rating.

However, the ratings also point to subject areas where mainland China still lags behind other major research nations and which, if boosted, could potentially strengthen its overall performance.

These include arts, humanities and social science (AHSS) subjects, where Chinese institutions tend not to score as highly when compared with other ranked universities around the world, but also some science, technology engineering and maths (STEM) disciplines.

For instance, two AHSS subjects where several Chinese institutions are rated but receive lower scores on average than other large research nations are applied economics (B- average) and sociology (B).

Meanwhile, the science subjects where mainland China’s universities are generally rated lower are those with a more theoretical leaning. Examples here are physics and biology, where Chinese universities achieve below a B on average compared with the US, the UK and Germany, who are all closer to A-.

Computer science and technology, an area where China is sometimes thought to be at the leading edge, also lags behind developed research systems; on average mainland Chinese institutions score a B compared with the UK, the US and Germany, who are all above B+.

However, possibly the biggest disciplinary gap that China may need to try to bridge in the coming years, given its worldwide research importance, is in the medical sciences.

In clinical medicine, China scores below a B on average compared with Germany and the UK, which both achieve closer to an A-. In addition, none of mainland China’s institutions reach an A+ in this subject area, a feat that is achieved by more than a quarter of ranked universities in Canada, the UK and the US.

It is a similar, but smaller, gap in the area of basic medicine and medical science, where mainland China’s grade average is nearer a B+, although it is eclipsed by the US, the UK and Germany (all closer to an A- average).

However, given the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is worth noting that in the area of public health and preventative medicine, where 18 institutions were rated, China’s performance was better. Here, it scored even closer to a B+ average, similar to the US and Germany, although still behind the UK (which was closer to A-).

simon.baker@timeshighereducation.com

POSTSCRIPT:

如果您想进一步讨论中国学科评级的结果,欢迎与泰晤士高等教育咨询团队负责人Elizabeth Shepherd联系,致信邮箱:Elizabeth.Shepherd@timeshighereducation.com 

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