China Subject Ratings: FAQs

We answer your frequently asked questions about the Times Higher Education China Subject Ratings 

June 21, 2021
Cover image of China Subject Ratings 2021 illustrating methodology

Last updated: 7 August 2023

Times Higher Education’s China Subject Ratings provide insight into the strengths of global universities from a specifically Chinese perspective. 

The latest edition, the China Subject Ratings 2023, were published in March 2023, comparing 95 mainland Chinese universities and an additional 1,682 universities worldwide across 83 subjects based on the classification of subjects from China’s Ministry of Education. Applying a grading system of A+ to C–, the ratings produce grades across more subjects than any other major rankings or ratings provider. This China-first approach and subject focus provide a global performance view that aligns with China’s benchmarking requirements.

Since launching the China Subject Ratings in 2020, we have received a number of queries. Here, we answer your questions.

The methodology for the 2023 edition of the ratings is available here.

Download our report for analysis and insights on the China Subject Ratings 2023.

If you would like to ask any questions or offer feedback, contact us at


What are the metric weightings for each subject?

The metric weightings for each subject are included in our full methodology document (p16-20).

How do we map institutional data on 11 subjects to 83 more detailed subject areas?

The China Subject Ratings include universities from across the world, so we need to account for countries’ different subject classification systems. The 11 broad subject areas used in the THE World University Rankings allow us to be as inclusive as possible, while the 83 more detailed disciplines ensure that we are providing insights from a specifically Chinese perspective.

Institutional data is just one of our data sources. We also use bibliometric data and data from our reputation surveys, and in these areas the mapping is more precise.

The mapping process involves assessing which subjects are the most related and then creating a closeness indicator for each mapping, which we use to help determine metric weights. The subject mappings are included in our full methodology document (p12-15).

Why would a university’s rating have dropped between 2022 and 2023?

There are three other reasons why an institution’s rating in a particular subject area may have dropped:

  • The underlying data for that institution have changed
  • The underlying data for other institutions have changed
  • The number of other universities rated for that subject has changed.

The 2022 and 2023 ratings are based on different data collections and this may result in different scores. For example, a university’s research output in a particular subject may have changed, or its reputation may have altered over the years. These changes will be seen in the metric and overall scores.

Universities are given a score relative to the performance of other institutions in the ratings, so their rating may improve or decline depending on whether the data for other institutions have changed and whether there are more or fewer institutions being rated against a particular discipline. This means that even if an institution’s scores are exactly the same as the previous year, their ratings may be different as a result of the other institutions in the ratings. This is more likely to occur if an institution is close to the boundary between two different ratings.

How is reputation data collected?

To collect data on reputation, we built a China-specific survey, which yielded over 31,000 votes. This data provided a detailed view on university reputation in China, comparing performance according to the China’s own subject groupings.

How are the local and global reputation surveys combined?

The global reputation survey is based on a classification of 50 subjects and asks academics about universities globally. The China reputation survey is based on the classification of subjects from China’s Ministry of Education (MoE) and specifically asks about Chinese universities.

For universities outside mainland China, the reputation score was based on the on the mentions they received for the 2021 and 2022 global reputation survey, which were converted using our mapping between reputation subjects and MoE subjects. For universities within mainland China, we blended the latest two China-specific surveys, giving greater weighting to the China survey given that it was fully aligned with the MoE subjects.

Why are there are only 11 metrics in the China Subject Ratings, but 13 in the World University Rankings?

The World University Rankings provide insights on subject-level performance in 11 broad areas, while the China Subject Ratings do this for 83 more detailed subjects. For the majority of the metrics, we can map the broad subjects and detailed subjects. However, it is not possible to adopt this approach for two of the teaching environment metrics in the WUR (doctorate-to-bachelor’s ratio and doctorates-awarded-to-academic-staff ratio) and so we have had to exclude these indicators in the CSR.

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