While American schools retain a dominant presence in a new ranking of the highest-ranking universities, Chinese universities are becoming more prevalent while American institutions are slipping, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Of the top 100 universities in the world, the number of American schools fell from 43 in 2018 to 34 in 2022, while the share of Chinese schools rose from two to seven, according to Britain’s Times Higher Education (THE) magazine Tuesday.
At the same time, In 2022, China had two institutions, Peking University and Tsinghua University, break into the top 20 ranking, a first for the country.
While China is gaining ground, its expertise is concentrated amongst a limited pool of top-performing universities, said Denis Simon, professor of China Business and Technology at Duke University, speaking to the WSJ.
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America retains the advantage of having a significantly broader base of high-performing institutions.
“The problem for China is there is a tremendous falloff,” Simon said to the outlet. “In the U.S. the top 300 universities are pretty good, in China, after the top 50 the falloff is very significant. China doesn’t have a lot of bench strength if you’re not at the top universities.”
Nonetheless, Simon noted that there was very little difference between students trained at the top engineering schools in both countries, the WSJ reported.
China is also ramping up spending on research, according to the WSJ. Though it spent just $526 billion compared to the U.S.’s $656 billion in 2019, China has been increasing spending by roughly 10% per year in a bid to catch its transpacific rival.
“The U.S. cannot take our competitive edge for granted,” said Barbara Snyder, president of the Association of American Universities, which represents 65 top U.S. research institutions. “The rest of the world is not standing still.”