China Subject Ratings 2021: milestones of maturity

The growing strength and expanding influence of China’s universities calls out for a yardstick that benchmarks the sector’s areas of excellence on both domestic and international terms. Our China-first measure does just that

May 11, 2021
graduates jump in shallow water
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Browse the full results of the China Subject Ratings 2021

Times Higher Education is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. As we review the wealth of our global performance data and reflect on the work of our international team of expert analysts and journalists, one thing that becomes clear is that China is enjoying a remarkably successful period as a world leader in higher education and research.

Having monitored Chinese universities’ increasingly rapid progress over the past decades, we can see that clear policy direction, bountiful investment and a unity of will have made it possible for the nation’s leading institutions to compete alongside the most esteemed universities in the world. This is evident in our prestigious THE World University Rankings, where Tsinghua University now enjoys a top 20 position, Peking University occupies 23rd place and several others have joined the elite world top 100 in recent years.

THE aims to be the best possible partner to the Chinese higher education sector as it continues to develop by providing ever more rich and deep data analyses and powerful tools that help institutions, government and students make the right decisions. We recognise that this requires us to continually refine and update what we do.

As part of this commitment, we are delighted to introduce the second edition of our pioneering China Subject Ratings. We quietly released a pilot of this exercise last year to gather feedback and to explore the results with universities across China. Now, we are pleased to return with a more formal launch of this important new project.

The China Subject Ratings provide vital new data to support China’s further development.

The ratings draw on key metrics and data from the trusted and established THE World University Rankings, but they focus down to the narrow subject level rather than the institution-wide level, which can sometimes obscure smaller fields of excellent subject-level work, or the broader subject level, which can gloss over important nuance.

We have also ensured that while the China Subject Ratings provide a fully global view of performance, rightly comparing Chinese institutions alongside the very best institutions from all across the world, we have taken a China-first approach. We have used Chinese subject groupings and adopted a Chinese subject taxonomy, and we have utilised a dedicated new Chinese version of our trusted global Academic Reputation Survey to drill down on the expert opinion of Chinese scholars and to amplify Chinese voices in the assessment. These steps mean that the China Subject Ratings will clearly and transparently align with China’s own national developmental and benchmarking requirements while allowing vital comparisons with the rest of the world’s universities.

We very much hope that this powerful data-driven rating system, developed by THE, will help ensure that Chinese universities continue to lead the world into the next 50 years.

Paul Howarth is CEO at Times Higher Education. Phil Baty is chief knowledge officer at Times Higher Education.

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