China Subject Ratings 2022: results announced

Australian universities come out top when judged against China’s classification of subjects, but mainland China is world-leading in 10 subjects

May 11, 2022
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Browse the full results of the China Subject Ratings 2022

Universities in mainland China are the highest-performing institutions in the world in 10 subjects, according to the latest edition of a global ratings based on the country’s own classification of subjects, but Australia is the number one country overall.

The Times Higher Education China Subject Ratings reveal how 1,634 global universities are performing across 82 different subjects classified by the Chinese Ministry of Education (MoE). Institutions are given a grade between an A+ and C- in each subject, based on their performance across four core areas: teaching, research, international outlook and knowledge transfer.

Analysis of the best-performing countries in each subject, based on the average grade across all institutions in each nation, shows that Australia comes out on top. The country achieves the highest average grade in 24 subjects, from applied economics (A-) to world history (B+).

Germany, the Netherlands and the UK are the next top-performing nations, achieving the highest average grades in 16, 13 and 11 subjects respectively. The analysis excluded nations with fewer than 10 universities in each subject.

Mainland China is fifth in the country table, after gaining the highest average grades in 10 subjects.

Other high-performing countries at a subject level include Canada, the US and Sweden.  

Pillar-level analysis

We have grouped the 82 subjects into 12 pillars, in line with China’s classification (excluding the military pillar as we have not rated performance for subjects in this area).

The UK is the top-performing nation for philosophy, achieving an average grade of a B+ based on data from 49 of its universities. Eleven of its institutions gain the highest score of an A+. Eleven mainland Chinese universities are rated for philosophy; one of these – Peking University – receives an A+.

Australia achieves the highest average grades for the two economics subjects in the ratings, scoring an A- for both applied economics and theoretical economics. Mainland China receives an average grade of a B+ in both subjects. Five institutions in the country achieve the top grade of an A+ – Fudan, Nanjing, Peking, Tsinghua and Zhejiang universities. 

The Netherlands is the number one country for the two law subjects, scoring an A for both political science and sociology. The lowest score for law in the nation is a B+ in political science at one institution; all other universities achieve an A grade in the two subjects. Mainland China receives an average grade of a B+ in both law subjects. Peking University is the only institution in the nation to achieve an A+ in the two areas. 

There are three subjects included under the education pillar – education, physical education and psychology – and each one is topped by a different nation. Mainland China is the top-performing nation for education (A), Australia is top for physical education (A-) and the UK is top for psychology (B+). Of the 12 Chinese institutions rated in the education subject, five receive an A+ grade. 

Germany is the top-performing country for foreign language and literature, achieving an average grade of a B+, while the Netherlands is number one for media/communications/journalism, with an average grade of an A. Two mainland Chinese institutions achieve an A+ in both subjects: Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Tsinghua University

Australia is the top-performing nation for world history (the only subject in this pillar), achieving an average grade of a B+ based on data from 24 of its universities. Mainland China scores an average grade of a B, based on data from 11 institutions. Peking University is the top performer, achieving an A+.

Physical science
There are 13 subjects included under the physical science pillar. Germany comes out top in four of them – physics, astronomy, geology and ecology – while the UK is top for three – mathematics, geography and systems sciences. China is the number one country on average for atmospheric sciences and geophysics. Four mainland Chinese universities achieve an A+ for atmospheric sciences – Fudan, Nanjing, Peking and Tsinghua – while three gain an A+ in geophysics – China University of Geosciences, Wuhan; Peking; and the University of Science and Technology of China.

There are 35 subjects included under the engineering pillar. Australia is number one on average for 19 of them, achieving an average grade of no less than an A- in each case. Mainland China is the next best-performing country for engineering, topping six of the subjects: mechanics, chemical engineering and technology, transport engineering, aerospace science and technology, nuclear science and technology, and urban and rural planning.

There are nine subjects included under the agriculture pillar and Germany leads six of them: crop science, agricultural resources and environment, plant protection, animal husbandry, forest science/forestry and aquatic production/aquatic science. The US, UK and Canada are number one for the remaining three subjects: horticulture, veterinary science and grass science/turf grass science respectively. Few mainland Chinese institutions are rated for agriculture. The most popular subject in the country is plant protection; the 10 institutions rated achieve an average grade of a B+. 

There are seven subjects included under the medical pillar. The Netherlands comes out top in three of them – public health and preventive medicine, medical technology and nursing. Germany is best on average for basic medicine/medical science and clinical medicine, and Canada is best for stomatology and pharmacy. Mainland China’s top subject in the medical pillar is public health and preventive medicine; 23 institutions in the country are rated in this area and score an average grade of an A-.

There are five subjects included under the management pillar. The UK leads on management science and engineering, and business administration; the Netherlands leads on public administration, and library information and archives management; and Germany leads on agriculture and forestry economic management. Mainland China’s top subject in the management pillar is library information and archives management; 15 institutions in the country are rated in this area and score an average grade of a B+.

Note: We have excluded the arts pillar in the article analysis because the data quality was not sufficient for country-level comparisons.

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