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Top Japanese

universities climb

in world rankings

By Chisato Tanaka for the Japan Times

A record 103 Japanese universities made it onto this year’s Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings list, with the nation’s two top universities — the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University — moving up in the standings.


According to THE, the country’s top institution, the University of Tokyo, also known as Todai, climbed to 42nd place, up four places from its worst-ever ranking last year.


Kyoto University secured its position as the nation’s second highest-ranked university, jumping up nine places from last year to 65th — marking its second consecutive year of improvement on the influential ranking that lists over 1,250 of the world’s top institutions.


“This is a nation of immense ingenuity and potential, and we could be witnessing a positive turning point here for its universities,” Phil Baty, THE’s editorial director of global rankings, said in a press release Wednesday. However, he warned that to strengthen its status as a key competitive higher-education power both regionally and globally, Japan “requires a commitment to much greater investment and an intensification of its efforts to internationalize.”


The organization’s rankings are based on the weighted scores of thirteen indicators in five pillars, including learning environment, research, international outlook, research influence and industry income.


THE attributes the surge in Todai’s ranking to improvement in its learning environment (ranked 16th), research (ranked 19th) and industry income performance.


The record high 103 Japanese institutions that made the list surpassed last year’s 89, making Japan the second most-represented country after the United States with 172 institutions. The United Kingdom, with 98 universities in the rankings, lost its second place position for the first time.


Among the Japanese institutions appearing in the top 500 for the first time were Fujita Health University, Tokyo Metropolitan University and Teikyo University. The improved rankings are primarily due to a big increase in the number of research citations.


The United Kingdom’s Oxford University secured its first place position for a third consecutive year, followed by the University of Cambridge, which ranked second for the second consecutive year. Third place went to Stanford University in California.


Mainland China remains the most-represented Asian nation among the top 200, with the nation’s new number one institution, Tsinghua University, topping the National University of Singapore, which had long been known as Asia’s top university, by one place.