University of Tokyo holds on to top spot

China rising in school rankings

Kyodo

While Japan once again tops this year’s Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings, it is finding its traditional dominance in higher education increasingly challenged by China and South Korea, education experts say.

Japan held on to the No. 1 spot in this year’s rankings, released Thursday, with 20 schools listed in the top 100, but China now has 18 of its mainland institutions listed. And if six schools separately listed under Hong Kong, Beijing’s special administrative region, were included, China would lead the list with 24.

South Korea came in third, with 14 institutions listed, while Taiwan fell from second to fourth with 13 schools in the top 100.

But there were few changes near the top end of the annual league table. While the University of Tokyo retained first place, the National University of Singapore second and the University of Hong Kong third, Seoul National University jumped into fourth place from eighth last year.

China’s top-ranked institutions include Peking University, which came in fifth, and Tsinghua University in sixth.

Five of Japan’s institutions made the top 20: University of Tokyo, Kyoto University (seventh), Tokyo Institute of Technology (13th), Osaka University (15th) and Tohoku University (16th).

However, the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (81st in 2013) and Yokohama National University (tied for 96th) both dropped out of the table this year, while three more institutions close to losing their places: Okayama University (down nine places to 94th), Kanazawa University (holding on to 96th) and Chiba University (which fell 23 places to tie for 98th).

By contrast, the league table shows a number of Chinese universities making their way up.

“Japan is still the top Asian nation for higher education and research, but potentially not for much longer: The new data show clearly that it is in danger of losing its lead, with China and South Korea in hot pursuit,” said Phil Baty, editor of Times Higher Education Rankings.

Although they had a strong head start, Japan’s universities have suffered from Japan’s protracted economic slump while other Asian countries have been investing heavily in their higher education systems. But the factors are more than economic.

“In addition to funding cuts, conservatism, complacency and a reluctance to embrace internationalization are also hurting Japan. There are signs that these problems are being addressed but, is it too little, too late?” Baty said.

The Asian rankings include countries in East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

The full results can be seen at www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings.