Published: 11:06, April 15, 2024
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China's STEM programs rank among world's best
By Zhao Yimeng
This undated photo shows an entrance to Tsinghua University in Beijing, capital of China. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Chinese mainland universities are solidifying their standing in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, according to the 2024 Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings by Subject.

Chemistry stands out as the most successful and internationally recognized discipline among mainland universities, with 49 institutions featured in the rankings. Peking University ranks 13th globally, a five-position improvement from last year, and has secured the top spot in the field among mainland universities.

Closely following chemistry is biology, with 48 mainland universities represented in the rankings. Tsinghua University surged eight spots to claim 24th place globally and positioned itself as the top mainland university in the field.

Materials science has emerged as the third strongest discipline for mainland universities, with 46 institutions earning a place in the rankings. Tsinghua maintained its top position among mainland universities in the field, securing 12th place globally, down from 10th last year.

Computer science followed closely, with 43 mainland universities featured in the rankings. Tsinghua has made notable progress in the area, climbing four positions to secure 11th place globally.

In all, the Chinese mainland ranked third globally in the number of institutions participating, showcasing both established strengths and new developments. Mainland universities had 882 programs across 54 subjects in the rankings, up from 851 last year.

This year saw a 25 percent improvement in Peking University's overall ranking performance across 44 subjects, followed by Fudan University and Tsinghua. However, Tsinghua outpaced Peking University in subjects ranked in the global top 10, with four programs compared to Peking University's two.

Tsinghua's highest global ranking, fifth, came not in a STEM field, but in art history, highlighting the growing diversification within mainland universities. The inclusion of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in the rankings also exemplified the expanding academic landscape on the mainland.

Many other mainland institutions gained recognition for specific programs. China Agricultural University's agriculture and forestry program cracked the global top 10 for the first time, and Sichuan University's dentistry program saw a significant jump to No 12 in the world.

The United States continues to hold the top spot in the number of fields led, with 32, followed by the United Kingdom on 16. Harvard University reigns supreme with 19 programs ranked first globally, while the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is second with 11.

"This edition of the rankings showcases the depth, expansion and excellence of higher education on the Chinese mainland," QS said on its WeChat account.

China's growing prominence in data science and artificial intelligence is another noteworthy trend.

"Four Chinese mainland universities rank within the global top 50 for these fields," said Ben Sowter, QS senior vice-president. "This solidifies China's position as a key player in the fifth industrial revolution, with its universities at the forefront of driving this transformation."