National

Todai loses crown as Asia's leading university, overtaken by Singapore, Beijing

Kyodo

The University of Tokyo has lost its crown as Asia’s leading higher education institution after being overtaken by the National University of Singapore and Peking University in a global ranking released Wednesday.

The National University of Singapore took 26th place in this year’s Times Higher Education list of the world’s top 800 universities.

The University of Tokyo, commonly known as Todai, which regularly tops the list of Asian institutions, came in at 43rd position, well behind last year’s 23rd place. Peking University was ranked 42nd.

The California Institute of Technology remained the world’s No. 1 institution, with the University of Oxford in second place and Stanford University third.

The rankings, now in their 12th year and expanded to cover the world’s top 800 universities, measure a range of factors, including teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

Phil Baty, who edits the rankings, blamed the University of Tokyo’s fall on budget cuts. He noted that Japan was still Asia’s number one nation for top universities and the third most-represented country overall, with 41 of its institutions making this year’s list.

“Due to ongoing austerity in the country as a result of its crippling level of public debt, its spending in research and development has dropped significantly in recent years, with the main research budget for 2015 falling 3.9 percent from the previous year, to about $10 billion,” Baty said.

“The government has also cut management expenses grants, a basic subsidy to operate universities and research institutes.”

He added, “Although Japan has previously led Asia’s progress toward superpower status, it must now up its game and invest further in research to compete with its neighboring rivals.”

The only other Japanese institution in the top 200 was Kyoto University, at joint 88th, which fell from 59th place in 2014.