C9 League

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C9 League
C9 League.png
Formation4 May 1998; 24 years ago (1998-05-04)
Founded atPeking University, Beijing, China
Legal statusMinistry of Education of the People's Republic of China
HeadquartersBeijing, China
Region served
Official language

The C9 League (Chinese: 九校联盟; pinyin: Jiǔ xiào liánméng) is an alliance of nine universities in China, initiated by the Chinese Central Government to promote the development and reputation of higher education in China in 2009.[1] Collectively, universities in the C9 League account for 3% of the country's researchers, but receive 10% of national research expenditures.[2] They produce 20% of the nation's academic publications and 30% of total citations.[3] People's Daily, an official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, refers to the C9 League as China's Ivy League.[4] The grouping has been compared to other elite university groupings around the world, such as the Ivy League, Russell Group, U15, and Group of Eight.[5]


The C9 league comprises China's leading public research universities.[3] Its members are:

C9 League schools are allocated special resources, and have special arrangements for sharing resources with one another.[4] They have a higher fraction of elite academics who have been awarded one of China's top academic honors, the Thousand Talents Plan Professorship and the Changjiang (Yangtze River) Professorship, and often have a few who have been awarded both.[1] C9 League schools receive substantial funding from both national and local governments in order to build new research centers, improve facilities, hold international conferences, attract world-renowned faculty and visiting scholars, and help Chinese faculty attend conferences abroad.[6]

On November 7, 2014, the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences officially participated in the activities of the C9 League. However, it was not an official member. The Alliance is still called C9 League, which means that the total number of member universities is 9.[7]

All the C9 League schools are members of several categories of national key universities, including the former Project 211, the former Plan 111, the former Project 985 and the current Double First Class University Plan, representing China's most prestigious universities.[8][9]


The C9 members' undergraduate program is highly competitive. Five of the C9 members, namely Tsinghua University, Peking University, Zhejiang University, Fudan University, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University, are the hardest for students to get in. Only less than 0.2% of National Higher Education Entrance Examination ("Gaokao") takers get admitted every year (as a comparison to 0.6% of SAT-takers accepted in the five most selective Ivy League schools in 2012).[10] It should be noted, however, that over ten million students take the Gaokao every year, and less than 2.2 million take the SAT: these rates are not directly comparable.[11][12]

Rankings and reputation[edit]

The C9 members are viewed as some of the most prestigious universities of all Chinese universities and consistently rank among the best in the world.[4][13] Two of the C9 members (Tsinghua and Peking universities) are the two best universities in the whole of Asia-Oceania region and emerging countries, according to the THE World University Rankings, THE Asia University Rankings and the THE Emerging Economies University Rankings.[14][15][16] Moreover, the C9 league has dominated the QS BRICS University Rankings and the THE Emerging Economies University Rankings, claiming seven of the top 10 spots for both rankings.[17][15] In the QS Asia University Rankings, five of the C9 universities appear in the Asia Top 10.[18]

All the C9 members are ranked in the world's top 100 universities according to the Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities, the University Ranking by Academic Performance, and the SCImago Rankings.[19][20][21] All the C9 members are ranked in the world's top 150 universities in the Academic Ranking of World Universities and the Nature Index Annual Tables.[13][22] Seven of the C9 universities are ranked among the top 150 universities in the world according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities, the QS World University Rankings, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and the U.S. News & World Report Best Global University Ranking.[23][24][13][25] The C9 League as a grouping has been rapidly catching up with other elite groupings in terms of global rankings, even collectively passing Canada’s U15 and the UK's Russell Group within the ARWU league table in 2015.[5][26]

Internationally, Tsinghua and Peking were regarded as the two most reputable Chinese universities by the THE World Reputation Rankings where they have ranked 10th and 15th in the world respectively, together with Fudan University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, University of Science and Technology of China, Zhejiang University and Nanjing University in the global top 100 universities, and Xi'an Jiaotong University and Harbin Institute of Technology in the global top 200 universities.[27]

Tsinghua and Peking graduates are highly desired worldwide, with its Graduate Employability rankings placed at 6th and 19th in the world respectively in 2020 QS Graduate Employability Rankings, together with Fudan University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and Zhejiang University in the Global Top 50th Universities with high-achieving graduates every year.[28]

University City QS








CWTS(2021)[31][note 1] Scimago(2021)[21] URAP(2022)[20] Nature


NTU(2021)[19] Average
Tsinghua University Beijing 17 =16 28 26 7 3 10 18 14 15
Peking University Beijing 18 =16 45 45 27 16 22 12 23 25
Zhejiang University Hangzhou 45 75 52 115 21 10 15 22 19 42
Shanghai Jiao Tong University Shanghai =50 84 59 105 29 14 11 30 17 44
Fudan University Shanghai 31 60 77 141 74 54 45 33 47 62
University of Science and Technology of China Hefei 98 88 63 110 53 71 62 11 57 68
Nanjing University Nanjing 131 105 101-150 135 90 82 81 14 88 94
Xi'an Jiaotong University Xi'an 290 401-500 101-150 255 51 63 63 127 81 167
Harbin Institute of Technology Harbin 236 501-600 151-200 203 35 47 75 106 95 169

International Connections[edit]

The C9 League is a signatory member of the worldwide association of leading research universities, including the Association of American Universities (USA), the League of European Research Universities (Europe) and the Group of Eight (Australia), that signed the prestigious Hefei Statement (the ten characteristics of contemporary research universities) in 2013.[32]


The Chinese government made several categories of national key universities in history. One of the earlier groups is the Project 211, which was established in 1995 to strengthen research standards in China’s top universities, with universities that exceed a threshold receiving significantly increased funds.[2] By 2008, 116 higher education institutions were members of the Project 211.[2][9]

Another more selective group is the Project 985, established in 1998. The Chinese government included 39 high-level universities offering comprehensive and leading education in the Project 985, and capped their memberships to these 39 in 2011.[2][9]

The most selective group is the C9 League, established by the Chinese central government at the 100th anniversary of Peking University on May 4, 1998, as part of the Project 985 with the goal of advancing Chinese higher education by formalizing an elite group of universities to foster better students and share resources.[4] Nine universities were selected and allocated funding, and on October 10, 2009, the relationship between these nine universities was formalized into China's C9 League.[33][34]

The current project, established in 2015, is the Double First Class University Plan to create world-class universities by 2050.[35][9]

In October 2015, the State Council of the People's Republic of China published the 'Overall Plan for Promoting the Construction of World First Class Universities and First Class Disciplines' (Double First Class University Plan), which made new arrangements for the development of higher education in China, comprehensively integrating previous projects including C9 League, Project 211, Project 985, etc.[36] In September 2017, the full list of the universities and their disciplines of the Double First Class University Plan was released by the Ministry of Education of China, the Ministry of Finance of China and the National Development and Reform Commission of China.

According to the list, 140 universities have been approved as ‘Double First Class Universities’ by the central government of China. The Double First Class University Plan underlines that driving the overall development of universities by building and strengthening their faculties and departments, and eventually developing the 140 listed elite universities into world-class universities by 2050.[36][37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Measured by number of top 1% publication P(top 1%), ordered by P(top 1%) using fractional counting.


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