The China Quarterly

Research Reports

Are Chinese Universities Globally Competitive?  *

Kathryn Mohrman

Arizona State University. Email:


This article compares five leading Chinese universities with 16 other research-intensive institutions in Asia, Europe and the United States. All the universities demonstrate an increasing commitment to research, although the fastest growth between 2003 and 2007 occurred in Asian institutions. Beijing and Qinghua universities compare favourably in terms of funding, but their research output is not as highly regarded. Despite concerns about academic freedom, the international standing of at least some Chinese universities is likely to rise in the future.

(Online publication June 20 2013)


  • higher education;
  • world class universities;
  • China;
  • comparative education

Kathryn Mohrman is a professor in the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University, where she also directs the University Design Consortium, a joint project with Sichuan University. Past experiences include president of Colorado College USA, executive director of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, and Fulbright scholar in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea.


*  Fieldwork for this study was partially supported by an A.T. Steele Travel Grant from the Institute for Asian Research at Arizona State University.