List of universities in China
By May 2017, there were 2,914 colleges and universities, with over 20 million students enrolled in mainland China, and 156 colleges in the ROC free area. More than 6 million Chinese students graduated from university in 2008. The "Project 211" for creating 100 national universities began in the mid-1990s, and has merged more than 700 institutions of higher learning into about 300 universities. Corresponding with the merging of many public universities, has been the rapid expansion of the private sector in mainland China since 1999. Although private university enrollments are not clear, one report listed that in 2006 private universities accounted for around 6 percent, or about 1.3 million, of the 20 million students enrolled in formal higher education in China. The quality of universities and higher education in China is internationally recognized as China has established educational cooperation and exchanges with 188 countries and regions and 46 major international organizations, and signed agreements with 54 countries such as the US, British, Australia and Germany on mutual recognition of higher education qualifications and academic degrees.  
The country had the world's second-highest number of top universities, after the United States in the Academic Ranking of World Universities and the US News & World Report Best Global University Ranking. In 2017, China surpassed the U.S. with the highest number of scientific publications. China surpassed the U.S. with the number of universities including in the ranking (204 vs.198) in the 2020 CWTS Leiden Ranking edition. The University Ranking by Academic Performance 2020-2021 shortlisted 3,000 research universities from 123 countries in the ranking: China tops the list, with 485, followed by the US with 414. China is also home to the two best universities in the whole Asia and the Pacific and emerging countries with Tsinghua and Peking Universities, ranked at 20th and 23rd respectively in the world, according to the latest THE World University Rankings. China has dominated the QS BRICS University Rankings and the THE's Emerging Economies University Rankings, claiming seven of the top 10 spots for both rankings. China is also the most-represented nation overall. In 2020, China tops the QS Asia University Rankings list with over 120 universities including in the ranking, and five Chinese universities appear in the Asia Top 10, which is more than any country.
List of universities by provincial-level divisions
The following notation is used:
- National (Direct): Directly administered by the Chinese Ministry of Education (MOE)
- National (Other): Administered by other ministries
- Ω (National Key Universities): Universities with high regards from the MOE and the Chinese government
- Provincial: Public university administered by the province (or the autonomous region)
- Municipal: Public university administered by the municipality
- Private: Privately owned and funded university, or independent institution
- Mainland-HMT: Mainland China-Hong Kong or Macao or Taiwan joint venture university
- Sino-foreign: Sino-foreign joint venture university
The default list should follow the neutral order provided by MOE, namely the numerical order of identification codes.
Special administrative regions
Leading and time-honored universities in China
Peking University is the first formally established modern national university of China. It was founded as Imperial University of Peking (京師大學堂) in 1898 in Beijing as a replacement of the ancient Guozijian, the national central institute of learning in China's traditional educational system in the past thousands of years. Three years earlier, Sheng Xuanhuai submitted a memorial to Guangxu Emperor to request for approval to set up a modern higher education institution in Tianjin. After approval on 2 October 1895, Peiyang Western Study School (天津北洋西學學堂) was founded by him and American educator Charles Daniel Tenney (丁家立) and later developed to Peiyang University (北洋大學堂). In 1896, Sheng Xuanhuai delivered his new memorials to Guangxu Emperor to make a suggestion that two official modern higher education institutions should be established in Beijing/Tangshan and Shanghai. In the same year, he founded Nanyang Public School (南洋公學) in Shanghai by an imperial edict issued by Guangxu Emperor. The institution initially included an elementary school, secondary school, college, and a normal school. Later the institution changed its name to Jiao Tong University (also known as Chiao Tung University). In the 1930s, the university often referred itself as "MIT in the East" due to its reputation of nurturing top engineers and scientists. In the 1950s, part of this university was moved to Xi'an, Shaanxi, and was established as Xi'an Jiaotong University; the part of the university remaining in Shanghai was renamed Shanghai Jiao Tong University. These two universities have developed independently since then, along with the original Beijing Jiaotong University.
Meanwhile, Wuhan University also claimed that its predecessor Ziqiang Institute (自強學堂) was the first modern higher education institution in China. On 29 November 1893, Zhang Zhidong submitted his memorial to Guangxu Emperor to request for approval to set up an institution designed for training students specializing in foreign languages, mathematics, science, and business. After Ziqiang was founded in Wuchang, not only courses in foreign languages was taught, courses in science (chemical and mining courses starting from 1896) and business (business course starting from the very beginning) were also developed at the school. Later, although the school officially changed its name to Foreign Languages Institute (方言學堂) in 1902, the school still offered courses in science and business. In China, there had been some earlier schools specializing in foreign languages learning, such as Schools of Combined Learning in Beijing (京師同文館, founded in 1862[remark 1]), in Shanghai (上海同文館/上海廣方言館, founded in 1863), and in Guangzhou (廣州同文館), founded in 1864, but few provided courses in other fields, which hardly qualified as modern education institutions. Some argued that Wuhan University can only trace its history back to 1913 when the National Wuchang Higher Normal College (國立武昌高等師範學校) was established, but Wuhan University officially recognized its establishment as in 1893, relying on the abundance of historical documentation and the experts' endorsement.
Tianjin University celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1995, which would predate the establishment of Peking University. Jiao Tong University (in all Beijing Jiaotong University, Shanghai and Xi'an) followed in 1996. Other leading universities, such as Zhejiang University (1897), Peking University (1898), Shanxi University (1902), Nanjing University (1902), Hunan University (1903), Fudan University (1905), Tongji University (1907) and Tsinghua University (1911) also recently celebrated their hundredth anniversaries, one after another.
After the Chinese Civil War, parts of some famous universities of mainland China were transferred to the island of Taiwan: notably the National Central University and National Tsing Hua University. As a result, some universities on both sides of the Taiwan Strait share the same names. In the ROC-controlled Fujian, only one university, National Quemoy University was founded in 1997.
- In 1902, School of Combined Learning in Beijing was merged with Imperial Capital University, now Peking University. However, Peking University never claims 1862 as its year founded. Neither does Peking University claim the year of establishing the Guozijian, which can date back more than one thousand years. Hunan University, with a similar history with Peking, often traced its history back to a school established in 976 A.D, thus giving this university a thousand years of history. See "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 March 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link).
People's Republic of China
C9 League, China's "Ivy League"
The C9 League is an alliance of nine most prestigious universities in mainland China, including Fudan University, Harbin Institute of Technology, Nanjing University, Peking University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Tsinghua University, University of Science and Technology of China, Xi'an Jiaotong University, and Zhejiang University. People's Daily, an official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, and others refer to the C9 League as China's Ivy League. These nine universities made up the C9 League in 2009. According to the latest rankings in the Academic Ranking of World Universities, six of the C9 members are ranked in the top 100 universities in the world and all the C9 members are ranked in the world's top 150 universities.
Leading universities in mainland China (by geographical regions)
The Academic Ranking of World Universities, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and the U.S. News & World Report Best Global University Ranking ranked most of the 39 universities in the Project 985 among the top 500 universities in the world and most of the 116 universities in the Project 211 are ranked among the top 1000 universities worldwide.
Project 985 institutions
Project 211 institutions
Sino-foreign cooperative universities
China has a number of Sino-foreign cooperative universities, which are legally independent entities formed as joint ventures between Chinese universities and international partners. They include:
- Tsinghua-UC Berkeley Shenzhen Institute, Shenzhen
- Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen
- Duke Kunshan University
- NYU Shanghai
- The University of Nottingham Ningbo China
- Wenzhou-Kean University
- Shanghai Jiao Tong University-University of Michigan cooperative program
- Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University
Leading universities in Hong Kong and Macau
Other international rankings in external links:
- Academic Ranking of World Universities by Shanghai Jiaotong University
- U.S. News & World Report Best Global University Ranking by U.S. News & World Report
- Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Times Higher Education
- QS World University Rankings by QS World University Rankings
- CWTS Leiden Ranking by CWTS Leiden Ranking
- University Ranking by Academic Performance by the University Ranking by Academic Performance.
- Nature Index Institution Outputs Ranking by Nature Research
- UTN Rankings by Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities
- SCImago Institutions Rankings by SCImago Institutions Rankings
- The Center for World University Rankings by the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR)
- Webometrics Ranking ranks more than 2500 universities in China by the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities
- Project 211
- Project 985
- Plan 111
- C9 League
- Law schools in China
- Education in the People's Republic of China
- National Higher Education Entrance Examination
- OpenCourseWare in China
- China Open Resources for Education
- Association of East Asian Research Universities
- Association of Pacific Rim Universities
- Global U8 Consortium
- International Alliance of Research Universities
- Universitas 21
- Workshop on building top-class universities
- Worldwide Universities Network
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- (in Chinese) National Colleges and Universities List (1909 institutions in total as of 18-May-2007, Location, authority and level are also given)
- (in English) List of Chinese Higher Education Institutions — Ministry of Education
- MCI Approved List of Chinese universities, including official links