Kyoto University tied the University of Tokyo — moving up two spots from last year — for first place in the ranking of Japanese universities by Times Higher Education magazine.

Coming in third and fourth were Tohoku University, in Miyagi Prefecture, and the Tokyo Institute of Technology, respectively.

Unlike its annual global ranking which places greater focus on research and worldwide prestige, the magazine’s Japanese university ranking focuses primarily on teaching and student learning.

They were graded on four pillars: educational resources, engagement, outcomes, and international environment, according to the magazine. The rankings were carried out in cooperation with educational service Benesse Holdings Inc.

The University of Tokyo, also known as Todai, topped Kyoto University in three of four categories, but the Kansai-based school offset that with better marks for its international environment. Kyoto University finished 36th in the category, three places ahead of Todai.

National universities dominated the top nine spots for the second consecutive year, with Keio University, a private institution, placing 10th — the highest among private schools. It was followed by Waseda University, which came in 11th.

According to Masanori Fujii of Benesse Corp., public universities score high in educational resources, which accounts for the largest share of the evaluation among the categories, compared to private universities, which tend to perform better in educational engagement and international environment.

“National universities, while sustaining high educational resource levels, are still not really utilizing their advantage efficiently,” Fujii added.

This year the magazine added two new criteria — international exchange and foreign courses — into the international environment section, which only had two categories last year: proportion of international students and foreign teachers on campus.

In a news conference Wednesday, Duncan Ross, TES Global’s data and analytics director, said the previous two sectors merely covered one area of the internationalization of domestic universities, and that the new elements were added to help recognize “the degree to which Japanese universities work to give students opportunities to experience life and education outside Japan and the number of courses taught in (other languages).”

By category, municipal public institution Akita International University, which requires students to study abroad for at least one year, topped the list in both educational engagement and international environment.

In the publication’s annual world ranking released in September, the University of Tokyo ranked 46th and Kyoto University 74th. The two were the only Japanese universities ranked in the top 200.

Eighty-nine Japanese universities placed in the top 5 percent worldwide, third most of any country behind the U.S. at 157 and Britain at 93.

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