College ranking lists are generally unscientific and overrated. But if there’s one thing that unites them, it’s that U.S. and U.K. universities almost always get the top spots.
That’s not the case in U.S. News & World Report‘s ranking of global universities by subject area, released yesterday. For the first time, the ranking names a Chinese university as the world’s best university for engineering.
China’s prestigious Tsinghua University has bested the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to become the top school in the world for engineering research, according to a new U.S. News & World Report ranking, in a development that has renewed debate within China over the country’s educational system.
Tsinghua, which was rated second on last year’s engineering list, is ranked the 59th best overall university in the world this year, while MIT was named the second best university in the world. Three other Chinese universities were named among the top 10 on the engineering list: Zhejiang University (4th), the Harbin Institute of Technology (7th), and City University Hong Kong (10th).
Tsinghua, which is often called “China’s MIT” and is renowned as one of the country’s top schools for studying sciences, came in first among 250 universities ranked by U.S. News in a report released this week, with Cambridge-based MIT ranking second.
Each school’s score is based on its number of publications and citations as well as its global and regional research reputation. U.S. News has released rankings of U.S. colleges for more than 30 years, but 2015 marks only the second year that it has scored universities across the globe.
In China, where school rankings are closely followed by the media and the public alike, some trumpeted Tsinghua’s victory as a sign that Chinese institutions of higher learning are gaining ground on their foreign counterparts, in a sign of Beijing’s growing global clout.
“Tsinghua’s progress is a microcosm of China’s rise,” one user wrote Thursday on China’s Weibo microblogs, while another exulted: “Not only Tsinghua alums but also all Chinese should be proud.”
Xu Haiyun, a Tsinghua graduate and chief engineer for the China Urban Construction Design and Research Institute, told the state-run China Daily newspaper that in recent years, China has “constructed the most tall buildings, bridges and railways in the world, and we educated the greatest number of engineering students, all of which requires advancement in engineering technology.”