Biotechnology and Life Sciences Education in China - Changes in the quality of Chinese universities has allowed the biotechnology sector to grow - BioPharm International


Biotechnology and Life Sciences Education in China
Changes in the quality of Chinese universities has allowed the biotechnology sector to grow

BioPharm International
Volume 20, Issue 11


Table 1. Top 10 Chinese universities ranked by total citations of SCI-indexed Chinese papers (1995–2005)
A useful index for evaluating universities is their academic and research publications. Chinese universities have made notable progress in the publication of biomedical research papers (Table 1). From 1981 to 2003, there was a 20-fold increase in the number of Chinese papers published in journals indexed by the science citation index (SCI). In 2004, a total of 57,377 Chinese research papers were indexed by SCI, a 15.2% increase over 2003, accounting for 5.43% of all SCI papers, and ranking fifth place after the US, the UK, Japan, and Germany. SCI-indexed international papers authored by Chinese scientists reached 32,536.4


China has experienced a brain drain since the mid 1980s as a growing number of Chinese students have gone abroad to pursue higher-level education. Many have stayed abroad for years, acquiring research or commercial experience. A survey of the life sciences school at Peking University showed that 72% of Peking University masters and PhD graduates between 1998 and 1999 chose to go abroad for further study or postdoctoral research.5

Table 2. Graduate students majoring in biology and bioengineering in China
China is working to reverse this. Many Chinese universities are offering incentives to lure graduates back, including competitive salaries, comfortable accommodations, and flexible work schedules allowing them to work both in China and abroad.

Many believe that the key to China's success in biotechnology and life sciences education is largely dependent on how Chinese universities will foster a new generation of innovative graduates. This success will be measured against international standards. With a growing number of Chinese returnees who have acquired experience in Western countries, China's talent pool is on the road to achieving world-class quality.

Eric Langer is president of BioPlan Associates, Rockville, MD, 301.921.9074,
Eliza Yibing Zhou is project director for research programs on China and India.


1. Ministry of Education. Development status of China's education sector [in Chinese]. 2005, Sep 7. Available from URL: http://

2. Ministry of Education of PRC. National Education Sector Development Statistics Bulletin, 1998–2004 [in Chinese]. Available from URL: http://

3. Zhu Yuxian. Strategic thoughts on China's bio-industry talents [in Chinese]. China Biotech Industry Development Report (2004), pg 50–57.

4. Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China (STIC). 2004 China Scientific Paper Statistics [in Chinese]. 2005, Dec 6.

5. Ouyang Liming, Ou Ling, Wei Dongzhi. Market demand and training mode for biological science talents [in Chinese]. Higher Education in Chemical Engineering 2006;87(1):25–29.

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