Japanese universities lag U.S., Britain in combined academic opinion poll


The University of Tokyo maintained its crown as Asia’s most prestigious higher education institution while Japan placed third behind the United States and Britain in overall university rankings, according to a global survey of academic opinion released Thursday.

This year’s Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings placed the University of Tokyo in eighth position, the same as in the 2011 rankings, among the world’s top 100. Harvard University in the United States was No. 1.

Among other Japanese universities in the top 100, Kyoto University ranked 20th, down from 18th in 2011, while Osaka University, Tohoku University and Tokyo Institute of Technology all came in between 50th and 60th.

By country, Japan was in joint third place with the Netherlands. The United States had 44 universities in the top 100 and Britain had 10.

“Japan has maintained an outstanding showing in the global top 100 reputation rankings,” said Phil Baty, editor of the Times Higher Education Rankings.

“But there is also a very exciting group of East Asian countries or regions enjoying significant increases in the prestige of their universities, with China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore all seeing their top universities rising up the reputation table.”

The rankings are based on a survey of 17,554 scholars across the world and in a range of disciplines. They are asked to nominate no more than 15 of the “best” institutions in their narrow field of expertise.

This is the second year of rankings based on academic reputation. The Times Higher Education magazine decided to publish the table because, while data based on objective performance indicators are important, subjective views are also critical in terms of attracting money and students, Baty said.

In last year’s World University Rankings, also produced by the magazine, which rely on 13 mostly objective performance indicators, the University of Tokyo came in 30th but was still the highest ranked institution in Asia.