C9 League

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C9 League of Chinese Universities
C9 League.png
FormationMay 4, 1998
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 official alliance of nine universities in China, initiated by the Chinese Central Government through the Project 985 to promote the development and reputation of higher education in China.[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]

Membership and benefits[edit]

The C9 league comprises China's most leading public research comprehensive universities.[3] Its members (in alphabetical order) are 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.[1] 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.[5]


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).[6]

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][7] Two of the C9 members (Tsinghua and Peking universities) are the two best universities in the whole Asia and the Pacific and emerging countries, according to the THE World University Rankings and the THE Emerging Economies University Rankings.[8][9][10] 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.[11][12] In the QS Asia University Rankings, five of the C9 universities appear in the Asia Top 10.[13]

All the C9 members are ranked in the world's top 100 universities according to the latest rankings of the Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities, the University Ranking by Academic Performance and the CWTS Leiden Ranking.[14][15][16] 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.[7][17] Seven of the C9 universities are ranked among the top 200 universities in the world according to the latest rankings of 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.[18][19][7][20]

Internationally, Tsinghua and Peking were regarded as the two most reputable Chinese universities by the THE World Reputation Rankings where they have ranked 13th and 16th 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 125 universities.[21] 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.[22]

University City QS








CWTS(2020)[16] URAP(2019)[15] Nature


NTU(2020)[14] Average
Tsinghua University Beijing 15 20 29 28 5 12 12 17 17
Peking University Beijing 23 23 49 51 8 21 10 29 27
Shanghai Jiao Tong University Shanghai 47 100 63 122 2 19 38 25 52
Zhejiang University Hangzhou 53 94 58 135 3 20 23 30 52
Fudan University Shanghai 34 70 100 160 15 58 32 62 66
University of Science and Technology of China Hefei 93 87 73 124 59 62 8 59 71
Nanjing University Nanjing 124 111 101-150 148 44 75 13 85 91
Harbin Institute of Technology Harbin 260 401-500 101-150 214 23 73 125 96 171
Xi'an Jiaotong University Xi'an 303 401-500 101-150 301 17 82 109 100 183

History, and relationship to other categories of elite universities[edit]

The Chinese government has four main categories of elite universities. The first and largest of these 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] As of 2018, 116 higher education institutions were members of the Project 211.[2]

The second, established in 2015, is the Double First Class University Plan to create 42 world class universities by 2050.[23] A third, more selective group is the Project 985, established in 1998. The Chinese government included 39 universities in the Project 985, and capped membership to these 39 in 2011.[2]

The final and most selective group is the C9 League, established by the Chinese central government 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.[24][25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Li F, Miao Y, Yang C (2015). "How do alumni faculty behave in research collaboration? An analysis of Chang Jiang Scholars in China". Research Policy. 44: 438–450. doi:10.1016/j.respol.2014.09.002.
  2. ^ a b c d "Best universities in China 2018". Times Higher Education. 6 September 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Eastern stars: Universities of China's C9 League excel in select fields". Times Higher Education.
  4. ^ a b c d "China's Ivy League: C9 League". People's Daily. Retrieved 17 Apr 2018.
  5. ^ "World Education News & Reviews". wenr.wes.org.
  6. ^ Writers, Staff (2012-08-14). "15 Facts About China's Grueling College Entrance Exam -". collegestats.org. Retrieved 2020-12-14.
  7. ^ a b c d "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2020". Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  8. ^ "Asia University Rankings". Times Higher Education (THE). 2020-05-28. Retrieved 2020-09-27.
  9. ^ "Emerging Economies". Times Higher Education (THE). 2020-01-22. Retrieved 2020-09-13.
  10. ^ "World University Rankings". Times Higher Education (THE). 2020-08-25. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
  11. ^ "QS University Rankings: BRICS 2019". Top Universities. 2018-10-02. Retrieved 2020-09-13.
  12. ^ "Emerging Economies". Times Higher Education (THE). 2020-01-22. Retrieved 2020-09-13.
  13. ^ "QS University Rankings: Asia 2021". Top Universities. 2020-11-19. Retrieved 2020-12-15.
  14. ^ a b "World University Rankings". nturanking.lis.ntu.edu.tw. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  15. ^ a b "URAP 2019-2020 | World Ranking 2019-2020". urapcenter.org. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  16. ^ a b "CWTS Leiden Ranking 2020". www.leidenranking.com. Retrieved 2020-10-16.
  17. ^ a b "2020 tables: Institutions | 2020 tables | Institutions | Nature Index". www.natureindex.com. Retrieved 2020-10-16.
  18. ^ a b "QS World University Rankings 2021". Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  19. ^ a b "World University Rankings 2021". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  20. ^ a b "Top World University Rankings | US News Best Global Universities". www.usnews.com. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  21. ^ "World Reputation Rankings". Times Higher Education (THE). 2020-10-30. Retrieved 2020-11-04.
  22. ^ "Graduate Employability Rankings 2020". Top Universities. 2019-09-10. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
  23. ^ "China to develop 42 world-class universities". People's Daily. 21 September 2017.
  24. ^ "九校高校签订《一流大学人才培养合作与交流协议书》". Archived from the original on 2012-08-05.
  25. ^ Sainsbury, Michael (4 November 2009). "China establishes group of Ivy League universities". The Australian.