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Ranking China’s Law Schools

The Chinese Law Prof Blog recently did a post on the ranking of China law schools and universities. Unfortunately, nobody seems to know the criteria behind the rankings, put out by a certain Mr. Wu, but here goes anyway:

1.  A++  Beijing University
2.  A++  People’s University (Beijing)
3.  A++  Wuhan University
4.  A++  Tsinghua University
5.  A+  China University of Political Science and Law (Zhengfa Daxue)
6.  A+  Jilin University
7.  A+  Fudan University
8.  A+  Southwest University of Political Science and Law (Xinan Zhengfa Daxue)(Chongqing)
9.  A  Zhongnan University of Economics and Law (Zhongnan Caijing Zhengfa Daxue)
10.  A  Zhejiang University
11.  A  Xiamen University
12.  A  Zhongshan University
13.  A  East China University of Politics and Law
14.  A  Nanjing University
15.  A  Nankai University (Tianjin)
16.  A  Huazhong Normal University
17.  A  Suzhou University
18.  A  East China Normal University
19.  A  Shandong University

I also do not know what is meant by the A++ through A markings within the rankings.

A comment to the post may or may not be instructive (but my sense is that it is):

I’m afraid that Mr. Wu’s ranking is based on mere speculation, household perception, and personal feeling. It lacks scientific methodology. As China’s university education is expanding at an unprecedented speed, there is increasingly growing need for college rankings, which can serve as directions for high school students and their parents. Mr. Wu’s ranking happened to meet the market needs.

However, it is too unprofessional to be called a commercial ranking, much worse than the American News and World Reports Ranking [actually, it is US News and World Report], its counterpart in the U.S. No serious scholar or student in China believes in its credibility. Having said this, I do not deny that the ranking of university/law schools (especially the top 10) represent some facts, but the ranking of other schools should not be given much credit.

What do you think?

I do know that within China, Beijing University Law School (still often referred to as Peking University) does seem to carry a certain cachet beyond any other.

38 responses to “Ranking China’s Law Schools”

  1. Good post. Thanks.
    I hate it, hate it, hate it, when “A++” or even “A+” is used. I am sounding like and old timer, here but there WAS a time in the world where school grading and for employee evals when an “A” really meant an “A” (as in “superior”) and few students/schools/employees got them. A “B” meant in effect “good”) and most students/schools/employees received that (as a good statistical curve indicated they should). A “C” truly meant satisfactory/you did your basic job.
    Now, as this ranking list seems to say, and as Garrison Keilor so aptly notes, “everybody is above average.”
    Aaaaarrggghh!!

  2. Chris —
    I completely agree.
    I blame Georgetown and Harvard as it seems to me those were the first schools where getting a 3.8 meant you were in the bottom half of the class.
    Here’s a question though, are there any law schools in China not on this list? Are these the schools that get a B?

  3. Beida being Beida, I think you’re right in your assessment, but I think a lot of that is based on history and the Beida grads who are in positions of power today. I think if you’re looking toward the future and at the quality of the faculty, Renda (and their graduates) has the potential to unseat Beida in the next 10 years or so.

  4. Good post. Thanks.
    I hate it, hate it, hate it, when “A++” or even “A+” is used. I am sounding like and old timer, here but there WAS a time in the world where school grading and for employee evals when an “A” really meant an “A” (as in “superior”) and few students/schools/employees got them. A “B” meant in effect “good”) and most students/schools/employees received that (as a good statistical curve indicated they should). A “C” truly meant satisfactory/you did your basic job.
    Now, as this ranking list seems to say, and as Garrison Keilor so aptly notes, “everybody is above average.”
    Aaaaarrggghh!!

  5. Chris —
    I completely agree.
    I blame Georgetown and Harvard as it seems to me those were the first schools where getting a 3.8 meant you were in the bottom half of the class.
    Here’s a question though, are there any law schools in China not on this list? Are these the schools that get a B?

  6. Beida being Beida, I think you’re right in your assessment, but I think a lot of that is based on history and the Beida grads who are in positions of power today. I think if you’re looking toward the future and at the quality of the faculty, Renda (and their graduates) has the potential to unseat Beida in the next 10 years or so.

  7. Dan,
    Good question. I don’t know.
    If the posted list is all the law schools there are in China, though, there is simply no possible way that all of them can be A+’s, A’s or B’s. Some of that list I have to believe is a B, C or D, if those folks are being honest and introspective.
    I can’t even begin to start to write on school rankings in the US or elsewhere, as my blood starts to boil at the self mis-perception and/or outright corruption. I view school rankings across disciplines like mutual funds — there are at least 500 of them, but each fund picks the variable that makes them or allows them to tell prospective clients that they are number one! I will leave it at that or I will be typing all night on this subject and will blow a gasket!
    But as one anecdotal example, I have litigated against Harvard or Stanford law grads that were truly outstanding. And others who were buffoons.

  8. Dan,
    Good question. I don’t know.
    If the posted list is all the law schools there are in China, though, there is simply no possible way that all of them can be A+’s, A’s or B’s. Some of that list I have to believe is a B, C or D, if those folks are being honest and introspective.
    I can’t even begin to start to write on school rankings in the US or elsewhere, as my blood starts to boil at the self mis-perception and/or outright corruption. I view school rankings across disciplines like mutual funds — there are at least 500 of them, but each fund picks the variable that makes them or allows them to tell prospective clients that they are number one! I will leave it at that or I will be typing all night on this subject and will blow a gasket!
    But as one anecdotal example, I have litigated against Harvard or Stanford law grads that were truly outstanding. And others who were buffoons.

  9. Okay, but that does not mean most of the others on the list also get/stay at an “A++”!
    And your criteria that they are “phenomenally good” are _________? They may very well be, but I just need to know which (mutual fund – see above) criteria you are using!

  10. Okay, but that does not mean most of the others on the list also get/stay at an “A++”!
    And your criteria that they are “phenomenally good” are _________? They may very well be, but I just need to know which (mutual fund – see above) criteria you are using!

  11. Well, JK did a good job summing up what I was going to say. For the top schools, I have no idea about Wuhan and so won’t say anything, but I believe (I may be wrong) Qinghua came late to the law school game and while they are building up a top school, it lacks the history. Beida is tops at everything and law is no different. As JK mentioned, Renda has an excellent and influential faculty, comparable or better than even Beida. It seems that more and more of their students are going to top firms and also hold influential positions as judges and in the proscuretarate.

  12. B.cheng.
    I have no idea why foreigners like jilin university so much. Its a so so 2nd tier school that chinese high school students do pay attention to
    When I was in college, Renda,beida,wuhan law school were perceived as the best. Qinghua law school is a latecomer and has less than 10 year hisitory

  13. China Law Blog:
    I myself is a Renda graduate. Renda law school is perceived as one of the best law schools in china. China doesnt have a reliable university ranking system so there is no way i can tell you why its one of the best but every year renda law school graduate program is one of the most competent to get in, judging by the entrance exam score. Many law professors in renda law school are key members when making new chinese laws and Xiao yang, the old head of Supreme People’s Procuratorate graduated from renda law school as well.
    Sad thing is renda school officials are not good at selling renda, unline beida and tsinghua.

  14. Well, JK did a good job summing up what I was going to say. For the top schools, I have no idea about Wuhan and so won’t say anything, but I believe (I may be wrong) Qinghua came late to the law school game and while they are building up a top school, it lacks the history. Beida is tops at everything and law is no different. As JK mentioned, Renda has an excellent and influential faculty, comparable or better than even Beida. It seems that more and more of their students are going to top firms and also hold influential positions as judges and in the proscuretarate.

  15. b. cheng/jk —
    Thanks for contributing. I wish I could add more, but I know so little about most of the law schools. I must say though, that I was a bit surprised to see Wuhan score so highly. Not that I know anything much about the University there, it is just that I was surprised a school outside Shanghai/Beijing would do so well. But Wuhan U. does have a long and storied history, does it not?

  16. B.cheng.
    I have no idea why foreigners like jilin university so much. Its a so so 2nd tier school that chinese high school students do pay attention to
    When I was in college, Renda,beida,wuhan law school were perceived as the best. Qinghua law school is a latecomer and has less than 10 year hisitory

  17. China Law Blog:
    I myself is a Renda graduate. Renda law school is perceived as one of the best law schools in china. China doesnt have a reliable university ranking system so there is no way i can tell you why its one of the best but every year renda law school graduate program is one of the most competent to get in, judging by the entrance exam score. Many law professors in renda law school are key members when making new chinese laws and Xiao yang, the old head of Supreme People’s Procuratorate graduated from renda law school as well.
    Sad thing is renda school officials are not good at selling renda, unline beida and tsinghua.

  18. b. cheng/jk —
    Thanks for contributing. I wish I could add more, but I know so little about most of the law schools. I must say though, that I was a bit surprised to see Wuhan score so highly. Not that I know anything much about the University there, it is just that I was surprised a school outside Shanghai/Beijing would do so well. But Wuhan U. does have a long and storied history, does it not?

  19. Yes, I did. As part of Chinese law summer schools, jointly offered with 2 different US law schools. Most of the teaching were by Chinese professors and they were impressively good !

  20. Yes, I did. As part of Chinese law summer schools, jointly offered with 2 different US law schools. Most of the teaching were by Chinese professors and they were impressively good !

  21. All
    I second to most of the comments/views expressed above regarding Baida and Renda, but would like to add a bit more personal view on Renda (I was a law grad from Renda back in 1990).
    Renda was the first university established by the communist party since the establishement of the “new China”. Its predecessor was the so called “Shaan Bei Gong Xue” (Northern Shaanxi Public School) established by the communist party in Shaanxi Province in early 1900s specifically for “cadre training” purpose. That’s why Renda has been dubbed as the “No.2 party school”. Its graduates were generally allocated to the governmental organs in Beijing back to the planning economy time. This is why its alunmi appears to be increasingly influential these days. But it has nothing to do with law.
    Renda has been very closely involved in a number of new legislation drafting. Its particular strength has been on civil law. That’s why one of the two drafts of the new civil code is prepared by the Renda team.
    Both Beida and Renda are the best law school in China, applying any criteria. But they do have very different culture. My views is that Beida graduates are more interested in “going overseas”, which was something rare in Renda.
    On Jilin University, the general perception has been that it is very much a second or third tier university. But its ecomonic law faculty is very strong. This probably explains why it was somehow in the above ranking.

  22. All
    I second to most of the comments/views expressed above regarding Baida and Renda, but would like to add a bit more personal view on Renda (I was a law grad from Renda back in 1990).
    Renda was the first university established by the communist party since the establishement of the “new China”. Its predecessor was the so called “Shaan Bei Gong Xue” (Northern Shaanxi Public School) established by the communist party in Shaanxi Province in early 1900s specifically for “cadre training” purpose. That’s why Renda has been dubbed as the “No.2 party school”. Its graduates were generally allocated to the governmental organs in Beijing back to the planning economy time. This is why its alunmi appears to be increasingly influential these days. But it has nothing to do with law.
    Renda has been very closely involved in a number of new legislation drafting. Its particular strength has been on civil law. That’s why one of the two drafts of the new civil code is prepared by the Renda team.
    Both Beida and Renda are the best law school in China, applying any criteria. But they do have very different culture. My views is that Beida graduates are more interested in “going overseas”, which was something rare in Renda.
    On Jilin University, the general perception has been that it is very much a second or third tier university. But its ecomonic law faculty is very strong. This probably explains why it was somehow in the above ranking.

  23. I too have issues with the various rankings of schools and programs. I met a lot of law students while studying at Beijing but they were from Beijing Forestry University, we made dumplings. I talked to a lot of university students undergrads, masters, Ph. D’s while I was there and there is still a strong desire among the top undergrads to go abroad to school at Stanford or Chicago, these were MIS/IT and Economics Ph. D hopefuls respectively. Some stay in China and study at Tsinghua though.
    With the emphasis on standard entrance exams couldn’t you look at the sheer number of people who sit a school’s exam. I seem to recall China is like Japan if you want to attend a school you sit the school’s exam not just the SAT/GMAT/GRE/LSAT. Correct me if I’m wrong.
    If students or at least perspective students preceive Beida as the most desireable school for Law or any discipline that would say a lot. I know I’ve seen numbers for MBA programs where they say they get X number of applicants for Y positions. I remember reading how the top business schools in India get way more applicants than Harvard does for their MBA program. China is similar to India in that there are so many students and so few university positions.
    I don’t know if this data is publically available, but it would be enlightening, probably less subjective.

  24. JX —
    Thanks for checking in and thanks for your very interesting views on the difference in cultures between Beida and Renda. Makes sense to me, as far more of the international lawyers with whom we deal in China come from Beida than anywhere else. We also come across many Shanghai lawyers from East China University.

  25. I too have issues with the various rankings of schools and programs. I met a lot of law students while studying at Beijing but they were from Beijing Forestry University, we made dumplings. I talked to a lot of university students undergrads, masters, Ph. D’s while I was there and there is still a strong desire among the top undergrads to go abroad to school at Stanford or Chicago, these were MIS/IT and Economics Ph. D hopefuls respectively. Some stay in China and study at Tsinghua though.
    With the emphasis on standard entrance exams couldn’t you look at the sheer number of people who sit a school’s exam. I seem to recall China is like Japan if you want to attend a school you sit the school’s exam not just the SAT/GMAT/GRE/LSAT. Correct me if I’m wrong.
    If students or at least perspective students preceive Beida as the most desireable school for Law or any discipline that would say a lot. I know I’ve seen numbers for MBA programs where they say they get X number of applicants for Y positions. I remember reading how the top business schools in India get way more applicants than Harvard does for their MBA program. China is similar to India in that there are so many students and so few university positions.
    I don’t know if this data is publically available, but it would be enlightening, probably less subjective.

  26. JX —
    Thanks for checking in and thanks for your very interesting views on the difference in cultures between Beida and Renda. Makes sense to me, as far more of the international lawyers with whom we deal in China come from Beida than anywhere else. We also come across many Shanghai lawyers from East China University.

  27. Just for reference and a little update of Renda,
    it was named “People’s University” maybe a decade ago, but as the university is aiming for a global reach it has already officially changed its name into the “Renmin University of China”, whereas “Renda” is still a familiar term used here in China to refer to this university.
    Also, Wuhan University’s Law School is indeed one of the most prestigious law schools in China, where its International Law department is considered a pioneer in the field.

  28. Just for reference and a little update of Renda,
    it was named “People’s University” maybe a decade ago, but as the university is aiming for a global reach it has already officially changed its name into the “Renmin University of China”, whereas “Renda” is still a familiar term used here in China to refer to this university.
    Also, Wuhan University’s Law School is indeed one of the most prestigious law schools in China, where its International Law department is considered a pioneer in the field.

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