Four Japanese universities slip in annual global ranking

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

The University of Tokyo remained Asia’s No. 1 institution of higher education, according to an annual international ranking released Wednesday, but other Japanese universities lost ground.

The country’s most prestigious university, known colloquially as Todai, held steady in 23rd place in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2014-15.

But four other Japanese universities that made the top-200 list dropped in the rankings. Kyoto University fell seven places to 59th, while the Tokyo Institute of Technology dropped to 141st from 125th. Osaka University slipped to 157th from 144th, and Tohoku University moved down to 165th from 150th.

“There is an encouraging commitment in Japan to improve Japanese universities’ international outlook, which can be a real driver of improvement, but as nations like China and South Korea continue to make strong progress, it is not clear whether such reforms will be enough,” Phil Baty, the editor of Times Higher Education World University Rankings, said in a statement.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s growth strategy aims to have more than 10 Japanese universities ranked among the world’s top 100 within the next decade. The education ministry said last week it will give financial support to 37 public and private universities to boost their international competitiveness. These “superglobal universities” include the University of Tokyo, Kyoto University and Osaka University.

As for other Asian universities in the top 50, the National University of Singapore moved up one place to 25th to retain Asia’s No. 2 status. The University of Hong Kong remained unchanged at 43rd place, and Peking University ranked 48th, down from 45th. Tsinghua University rose one place to 49th, while Seoul National University was 50th, down from 44th.

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology shot up six places to 51st, and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology rose to 52nd from 56th.

Japan maintained its position as Asia’s top contributor with five schools in the top 200, followed by South Korea and Hong Kong with four, respectively, and China with three.

The California Institute of Technology took first place for the fourth straight year in the rankings, while Harvard University came second and the University of Oxford ranked third. Stanford University was fourth and the University of Cambridge came fifth.

The British magazine compiled the rankings by assessing indicators across five areas: industry income, teaching, citations, research and international outlook.

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