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: China outnumbers the U.S. for the first time in this ranking of the world’s ‘best’ universities

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China has surpassed the U.S. on a major ranking of the world’s best universities.

Among the 2,000 schools from more than 90 countries ranked by U.S. News & World Report, 338 Chinese universities made the list, compared to 280 American universities. It’s the first time China outnumbered the U.S.

Results were reported in the media outlet’s “Best Global Universities Rankings” released Tuesday. The U.S. and China were followed by Japan (105 universities), the United Kingdom (92), and India (81).

The media outlet began its ranking in 2014 as more universities began competing for students, as well as faculty and research investments. The rankings are based on a range of parameters, including research reputation, publications, conferences and citations. Student outcomes and individual programs are not included.  

Although China surpassed the U.S. by 58 spots, the majority of U.S. universities appear in the top half of the rankings, including 8 of the top 10, the report noted.

Here is the overall top 10 list:

Harvard University (U.S.)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (U.S.)

Stanford University (U.S.)

University of California–Berkeley (U.S.)

University of Oxford (U.K.)

University of Washington–Seattle (U.S.)

Columbia University (U.S.)

University of Cambridge (U.K.)

California Institute of Technology (U.S.)

Johns Hopkins University (U.S.)

The report added four new subjects to its 43 rankings: artificial intelligence; education and educational research; meteorology and atmospheric sciences; and water resources. “They’re hot fields right now and there is a lot of interest at different levels,” Robert Morse, chief data strategist at U.S. News, told MarketWatch in an email.

“ Among the top 10 schools for A.I., five schools were from mainland China; the U.S.’s Carnegie Mellon also ranked high. ”

Artificial intelligence is among the few fields that both the U.S. and China regard as strategic national priorities. The Biden administration signed the National AI Initiative Act of 2020 into law in 2021, aiming to advance U.S. leadership in the field.

“The world’s leading powers are racing to develop and deploy new technologies like artificial intelligence and quantum computing that could shape everything about our lives — from where we get energy
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to how we do our jobs, to how wars are fought,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said last year.

“We want America to maintain our scientific and technological edge, because it’s critical to us thriving in the 21st century economy,” Blinken said in a speech at a technology summit last year.

Among the top 10 schools for A.I., five schools were from mainland China, including Tsinghua University, which ranked No. 1. Carnegie Mellon University is the best U.S. college for A.I. research, ranking No. 12 on the list. China also leads in other science subjects, including nanoscience, nanotechnology, polymer science, engineering and physical chemistry. 

Fewer Chinese students have attended college in the U.S. since the coronavirus pandemic. From January to September 2022, 52,034 Chinese nationals received F-1 visas, down from  95,518 for the same period in 2019, according to the U.S. State Department data. The F-1 visa is used by international students to gain a degree or an academic certificate in the U.S.

While public-health concerns and travel restrictions related to the pandemic partly led to the dramatic fall in numbers over the past two years, increasing tensions between the two countries have also pushed Chinese students to gradually look for alternatives, both in China and non-U.S. options.  

International student enrollment at U.S. colleges and universities peaked in the 2015-2016 academic year and has been falling since then, the Institute of International Education said, citing visa concerns, competition from other countries with better access to work visas, and stronger social and political ties between China and other nations.

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