LONDON – The University of Tokyo remains the most prestigious institution of higher education in Asia, according to a study released Tuesday, but the editor of the study said Japan is slipping in relative academic prominence and some action is needed to fight competition.
The institution came in ninth in this year’s Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings, an annual survey of academic opinion, beaten only by American and British universities.
This year’s global index of university brands saw Harvard University once again come on top, with the University of Tokyo, also known as Todai, slipping one place from 2012.
The University of Tokyo’s nearest rival in Asia was the National University of Singapore, which climbed one place to 22nd. Most of the East Asian universities in the top 100 improved their ranking on 2012.
But China’s two flagship universities have slipped: Tsinghua University, from 30th to 35th, and Peking University from 38th to 45th.
Other Japanese universities to make it into the top 100 were: Kyoto University (23rd, down three places from 2012), Osaka University, (ranked between 51st and 60th, no change), Tohoku University and Tokyo Institute of Technology, (ranked in the 61st to 70th group, down from last year’s rankings, which put them in a cluster between 51st and 60th).
In terms of representation in the top 100, the United States and Britain are followed by Australia, which has moved ahead of Japan and the Netherlands and now has six institutions (up from four last year).
Phil Baty, editor of the Times Higher Education Rankings, said, “There is evidence that Japan is losing ground. Tokyo has slipped one place, and the universities of Kyoto, Tohoku and the Tokyo Institute of Technology have also fallen.
“The country’s government has acknowledged that Japan step up its efforts to attract more overseas academics and students and internationalize its research, but the latest ranking shows that more needs to be done.
“Japan’s showing in the reputation rankings is much better than its record in the overall World University Rankings, (coming 27th in 2012) based on 13 largely objective indicators, so there is a concern that the country has for too long been resting on its laurels and historical reputation. Strong action is needed to protect Japan from falling behind Asian rivals.”
The 2013 results are based on 16,639 responses from senior academics in 144 countries who were asked to judge universities according to reputation between April to May 2012.
The poll asks academics to nominate no more than 15 of the best institutions in their narrow field of expertise, based on their experience and knowledge.