In his commentary “The global decline of Japanese universities” (Jan. 19), Takamitsu Sawa mentions that a key factor for university rankings is the number of papers published and their citations, where Japanese academics do not perform well.
From my observations, one reason for the bad performance is that Japanese academics teach too many classes. Professors and researchers in full-time positions at Japanese universities typically teach six classes per week, which is not a high burden in international comparison. These lessons take up two or three days a week, so that the other two or three days can be spent on research activities.
The problem, however, is that many of these professors and researchers teach part-time at other institutions in addition to the classes at their own university. Teaching these additional classes often takes up one day per week, thus 20 percent of their working time is used for extra teaching. This leaves only one or two days a week for research, which is not enough to perform at a high level.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.