Three major universities quit international rankings

Yojana Sharma

After years of receiving extra government funding to push selected top universities up international university rankings, three major Chinese universities will no longer participate in overseas rankings – a move which academics say could make the rankings landscape less globally representative as Chinese universities pursue a different path. 

The three prestigious universities, Renmin University of China, Nanjing University and Lanzhou University have withdrawn from “all international university rankings” according to Chinese official media this week, with official sources pointing to a focus on “educational autonomy” and “education with Chinese characteristics”.

Renmin University, one of China’s top 10 universities, was the first to announce it would not participate in overseas rankings, as reported by China National Radio (CNR) and China Daily earlier this week. 

“The university’s administrators have reached a consensus and made the decision to withdraw the university from overseas rankings, which conforms with the overall direction of China’s education development and will become a trend,” the CNR report said, pointing to the likelihood of further Chinese university withdrawals ahead. 

Nanjing University had already said in its 2021-25 plan that improving in international rankings was not an important development goal, according to a recent release from the website of the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission.

In its 2022 World University Rankings, QS ranked Nanjing at number seven within China and 131 globally, Renmin at 38 within China and in the 600-650 bracket internationally, while Lanzhou is at 44 in China and in the 750-800 range internationally. Times Higher Education(THE) World University Rankings also ranked Nanjing highest of the three, at 111 globally. 

“They may be asking themselves what do we gain?” said Gerard Postiglione, emeritus professor at Hong Kong University.