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Director: Professor LIU Niancai 

Assistant Directors: Dr. LIU Li, Dr. FENG Zhuolin 

Phone: + 86 (21) 34205429

Address: Graduate School of Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 800 Dongchuan Road, Shanghai, China 200240

The history of the study of world-class universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University began with the founding of the Institute of Higher Education (IHE) in 1985. The first book (in Chinese) on world-class universities, Research on World-Class Universities edited by then Director, Professor Tao Aizhu, was published in 1993. In 2007, the first text in English, titled World-Class University and Ranking: Aiming Beyond Status, was published. It was edited by Professor LIU Niancai , the Director of IHE and by Dr. Jan Sadlak, the Director of UNESCO - European Centre for Higher Education.

In 2005, the Center for World-Class Universities (CWCU) was named as a strategic research unit by the Chinese Ministry of Education. This acknowledgment was made in recognition of its long tradition of providing high-quality consultation reports to the Chinese government on strategies for building world-class universities. Many of these reports have attracted the attention of national leadership, government officials, university leaders and the general public.

The center began to publish the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) in 2003 and updated it annually. Although the initial purpose of ARWU was to find the global standing of top Chinese universities, it has attracted a great deal of attention from all over the world. A survey on higher education published by The Economist commented ARWU as "the most widely used annual ranking of the world's research universities". Burton Bollag, a reporter at Chronicle of Higher Education wrote that ARWU "is considered the most influential international ranking". 

The center initiated the biennial International Conference on World-Class Universities in 2005. The conferences provide a platform for global leaders, senior university administrators, leading scholars and policy researchers worldwide to discuss various issues related to WCU. Contributions to previous conferences are published as books and are indexed in Conference Proceedings Citation Index – Social Science and Humanities (CPCI-SSH) by the Web of Science.

Building world-class universities is currently a hot issue in many countries. CWCU will continue to be devoted to developing a database and a clearinghouse on WCU, carrying out academic studies on WCU, and facilitating the application of the insights gained.