LONDON – The University of Oxford ranked first in an influential survey of the world’s top universities released Thursday, becoming the first university outside the United States to take top spot, with the California Institute of Technology in second place and Stanford University third.
The University of Tokyo ranked 39th in this year’s Times Higher Education list of the world’s top 980 institutions, the fourth-best institution of higher learning in Asia. The National University of Singapore took the Asian crown in 24th place.
The University of Tokyo, which was regularly at the top of Asian institutions, was again outranked by Peking University, which crept up the league table this year to 29th place. This year, the Japanese university also came behind Tsinghua University in China, which moved up to 35th place.
The rankings are now in their 13th year and measure teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.
Despite the University of Tokyo failing to take the Asian crown, Japan was Asia’s most represented country in this year’s list, claiming 69 places in the 980-strong list. Kyoto University also made the top 100 in joint 91st position.
“Across the table, Japan’s performance is generally good. However, Japan has fewer top institutions than many of its neighbors. It has just two top 200 representatives, while Hong Kong has five and China and South Korea each have four,” said Phil Baty, who edits the rankings.
“Despite these shortfalls, Japan’s government is recognizing and addressing weaknesses in the country’s higher education system.
“Japanese universities have been underfunded and generally poor at attracting international talent or encouraging researchers to collaborate with colleagues abroad, so in 2014 the government launched a special funding program for global competition and internationalization. This followed the Global 30 project, which aimed at creating English-only undergraduate programs.”
Baty added, “There is no doubt that more of Asia’s leading universities will soar to join the world elite in the years to come. Japan must ensure that it doesn’t get left behind.”