Times Higher Education’s first Japan University Rankings reveal the best institutions in the nation after THE analysed 406 universities and ranked 150 of them.
The rankings, which were produced in partnership with Japanese education company Benesse, are based on the teaching and learning environments that each university offers students.
The Japan University Rankings are based on four broad “pillars” (resources, engagement, outcomes and environment) and have a different methodology to the THE World University Rankings. Click here to read the full methodology.
Japan is a country that successfully maintains its ancient traditions alongside its identity as a nation of technological innovation. This kind of contrast may also be seen in the country’s higher education institutions as they develop their research output and international outreach while preserving Japan’s cultures and values.
10. Waseda University
In 1937, a monument was inscribed at Waseda University in calligraphy by Japanese statesman Hisoka Maejima and installed near the main gate. It held that its mission would be the fostering of good citizens, and an independence of scholarship that would contribute to the world: a mission it still holds today.
First established as Tokyo College in early 1882, the institution was renamed Waseda Daigaku (Waseda University) in 1902, after acquiring official designation. The university library was also completed around this time, and schools of education, commerce and engineering were set up to complement its faculties of political science, law, English, natural science and literature.
9. Tsukuba University
Tsukuba University is one of Japan’s oldest universities (1872). Its strong academic traditions have propelled it into Japan’s top 10.
Tsukuba University is ranked 172nd in the world (QS World University Rankings). Its alumni include 3 Nobel laureates. Tsukuba’s campus is the largest in Japan (636 acres).
8. Hokkaido University
A small university in downtown Sapporo that’s ranked 139th in the World (QS World University Rankings).
7. Kyushu University
Kyushu University in Japan is a public university located in Fukuoka, and is one of Japan’s National Seven Universities. Since its foundation in 1903, its aim has been to provide the highest levels of education, research and medical activities.
Now a recognised international university, Kyushu has 16 faculties, 11 undergraduate schools and 18 graduate schools. It is home to nearly 19,000 students, from some 90 countries, with over 2,000 academic faculty.
6. Osaka University
Osaka University ranks as high as 51st in the the World. It’s particularly strong for law, sciences, technology and medicine.
5. Tokyo Institute of Technology
With a history spanning more than 130 years, the Tokyo Institute of Technology is one of country’s leading institutions for science and technology. It is the only university outside the National Seven Universities group to feature in the top five of the ranking.
Founded in 1882, the university’s main library, situated on the Ookayama campus, is the largest science and technology library in Japan.
Admission to the university is highly selective and considered to be one of the most difficult university admissions processes in Japan. Owing to this, the university has a relatively small student body with under 10,000 students enrolled.
4. Nagoya University
In recent years, Nagoya University established three goals to help transform it into a globally recognised institution. The goals were: to increase international collaboration, to promote human interaction and to implement more English language education.
It may have been these perspectives that helped Nagoya University achieve fourth place in the Japan University Rankings.
Nagoya has nine faculties and 13 graduate schools and pays particular attention to research in the sciences.
The university has produced six Nobel prizewinners in science, the third highest tally in Japan behind Kyoto University and the University of Tokyo. Currently about 13% of undergraduates are foreign students.
3. Kyoto University
Kyoto University is spread across three campuses in Yoshida, Uji and Katsura. It is one of Japan’s oldest universities and is consistently highly ranked in Asia.
Kyoto has about 22,000 students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and has 10 faculties, 16 graduate schools, 13 research institutes and 21 research and educational centres.
The university was initially constructed of colleges in law, medicine, letters, and science and engineering. Within two years, the university opened a library and a hospital. Later, it established faculties in economics, agriculture and humanities and the first graduate school was launched in the mid-20th century.
The institution has produced a number of successful researchers including 10 Nobel prizewinners, two Fields medallists and one Gauss prizewinner.
2. Tohoku University
Many of Tohoku University’s facilities are built around and within the ancient war grounds of the city of Sendai.
In 1913, Tohoku University became the first university in Japan to admit female students after the appointment in 1911 of its first president, Masataro Sawayanagi, the vice minister of education. Tohoku was also the first university to admit foreign students.
In 2009, Tohoku University was one of 13 universities selected by the Japanese government to contribute to providing higher education on an international level, and the university introduced a series of degree programmes that are predominantly taught in English.
1. University of Tokyo
The University of Tokyo became the first national university in Japan when it was established in 1877.
It provides courses across the academic spectrum and currently has 10 faculties, 15 graduate schools, 11 affiliated research institutes (including the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology), 13 university-wide centres, three libraries and two institutes for advanced study.
Students are taught at three main campuses in Hongo, Komaba and Kashiwa but there are facilities associated with the university throughout Japan. The university has a slightly unusual course structure in that students follow a liberal arts education at one campus during their first two years before transferring to another campus to study their chosen topic.
The campuses are in close proximity to many of Tokyo’s cultural attractions including Yanesen, a town of temples, and Ueno Park, with its museums and cherry blossoms. The campuses also have good transport links to the centre of the capital.
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