Chinese Academics Criticize International University Ranking Systems

Late last year, YUAN Zhenguo, Tenure Professor of China Eastern Normal University, and Deputy Vice Chair of the Chinese Society of Education (CSE) published his report outlining “The High Risks of University Ranking”. At the same time, Peking University Chinese Language Professor CHEN Pingyuan launched a series of public lectures criticizing the overuse of rankings by universities themselves, as well as the general misleading of the public. Both academics referred to internationally renowned ranking systems including THE, US news, QS and ARWU ranking as “blind touch elephants”, questioning the methodology, objectiveness and comparability of each ranking system. The academics pointed out that only 20% or less of the weighted index is allocated to students’ teaching and learning. The academics expressed strong concerns that such ranking systems are pushing universities’ senior management to prioritize tasks supporting ranking, resulting in universities allocating less focus and consideration for building their own unique characteristics. The QS system, in particular, has been questioned in great detail in the Chinese media due to its overly “subjective” evaluation methodologies. This is not the first time that QS has publicly faced serious challenges from Chinese academics.

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