Chinese Language Blog

China’s Top 10 Universities Posted by on Apr 5, 2013 in Culture, Uncategorized

China has well over 2,000 universities (大学 – dà xué) and colleges, with a total student body population in excess of 20 million. Between 2002 and 2008 alone, the number of higher education students in China quadrupled. In Beijing alone, there are 82 institutions of higher education – a list that includes a police academy, a sports college, a dance academy, political colleges, and everything in between.

好好学习,天天向上 - Good good study, day day up!

With more students hoping to enter a college or university than there are open spaces, the admissions process is quite intense and incredibly competitive. The National Higher Education Entrance Exam (普通高等学校招生全国统一考试 – pǔ tōng gāo děng xué xiào zhāo shēng quán guó tǒng yī kǎo shì), or Gao Kao (高考 – gāo kǎo) for short. This exam lasts for 2-3 days, and varies in different provinces. Just as American high school students stress out about the ACT or SAT exam, Chinese high school students feel an immense amount of pressure to succeed on the Gao Kao, as their admission into a university or college rides almost entirely on their performance. Some students who fail the exam even repeat their senior year of high school to take it again; others who can afford it simply choose to study abroad, which can cost up to 15-30 times more than in China.

Here’s a short news clip about students getting ready for and taking the Gao Kao exam.

And here’s what students do AFTER the exam.

For those students who study hard enough and have the smarts to actually make it beyond high school, there are many options for higher learning. There are national universities, as administered by the Chinese Ministry of Education (中华人民共和国教育部 – Zhōng huá rén mín gòng hé guó jiào yù bù). These schools are known as “Universities directly under the MOE” (教育部直属高校 – jiào yù bù zhí shǔ gāo xiào). In addition, there are provincial universities that are administered by the particular province along with other public universitities administered by the municipality. Finally, there has been an influx of privately owned and funded higher learning institutiions in the last decade. With so many options to choose from, which institutions are regarded as the best in the land?

Well, according to this website, which lists the 100 China University Rankings for 2012  (2012中国大学排行榜100强 – 2011 Zhōng guó dà xué pái háng bǎng 100 qiáng), here are the Top 10 Chinese universities, with their location:

1. Peking University (北京大学 – Běi jīng dà xué); 北京 – Běi jīng


2. Tsinghua University (清华大学 – Qīng huá dà xué); 北京 – Běi jīng


3. Fudan University (复旦大学 – Fù dàn dà xué); 上海 – Shàng hǎi

4. Zhejiang University (浙江大学 – Zhè jiāng dà xué); 浙江 – Zhè jiāng

5. Shanghai Jiaotang University (上海交通大学 – Shàng hǎi jiāo tōng dà xué); 上海 – Shàng hǎi

6. Nanjing University (南京大学 – Nán jīng dà xué); 江苏 – Jiāng sū

7. Sun Yat-sen University/Zhongshan University (中山大学 – Zhōng shān dà xué);  广东 – Guǎng dōng

8. Wuhan University (武汉大学 – Wǔ hàn dà xué); 湖北 – Hú běi

9. China University of Science and Technology (中国科技大学 – zhōng guó kē jì dà xué); 安徽 – Ān huī

10. Jilin University (吉林大学 – jí lín dà xué); 吉林 – jí lín

There you have it. As you can see, the top two schools are both located in Beijing. This is why competition is so stiff amongst Chinese youth (and their parents, for that matter) to get into a Beijing based university. As children who grew up in Beijing have a higher chance of getting into these schools than do students from other provinces, moving to Beijing and sending your kid to middle/high school here is a high priority for many Chinese parents.

One change about this year’s list from the past year is that the university where I work – Renmin University (中国人民大学 – Zhōng guó rén mín dà xué) – got bumped off the list. Oh well… maybe next year!

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.

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