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5 Japanese universities in top 100 in latest world rankings

The Yasuda Auditorium at the University of Tokyo is seen in Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward on Feb. 19, 2021. (Mainichi/Kimitaka Takeichi)

TOKYO -- Five Japanese universities made the top 100 in the 2023 edition of the world rankings released by a British university evaluation agency on June 9, with the University of Tokyo coming in at 23rd place, the highest among Japanese colleges.

    QS Quacquarelli Symonds ranked 1,418 universities worldwide for the 2023 edition of QS World University Rankings, and 50 universities from Japan were included. This is one of two internationally renowned college rankings; the other is released by Times Higher Education (THE).

    QS makes rankings based on six indicators, including reputation among more than 150,000 academics, the number of papers cited per faculty member, which indicates the impact of research, and the ratio of faculty members per student.

    From Japan, the University of Tokyo was ranked 23rd for the second year in a row, followed by Kyoto University at 36th, Tokyo Institute of Technology at 55th, Osaka University at 68th and Tohoku University at 79th. The four Japanese universities ranked between 100 and 200 were Nagoya University at 112th, Kyushu University at 135th, Hokkaido University at 141st and Keio University at 197th.

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the U.S. ranked top for the 11th consecutive year, followed by the University of Cambridge in the U.K. in second place and Stanford University in the U.S. in third place. Among Asian countries and regions, the National University of Singapore ranked 11th for the fifth consecutive year, while Peking University and Tsinghua University of China, a country that has continued to make rapid progress, ranked 12th and 14th, respectively.

    Compared to the 2022 edition, 19 of the 50 schools ranked from Japan slipped in the standings. Meanwhile, 11 such universities improved their rankings, while 18 saw no changes in their positions.

    The University of Tokyo maintained its ranking, but the number of "citations per faculty" dropped 25 places from the previous year to 128th. QS rated the University of Tokyo as performing well on most of the indicators, but noted that the influence of research at the institution is declining.

    Ben Sowter, senior vice president of QS, said the data shows that the main reason for Japan's drop in the rankings is a decline in research performance. He analyzed that this is the result of Japan's lack of investment in intellectual capital over the past two decades, which is distinctly different from China as it continues to see an increase in the number of master's degree graduates.

    He also mentioned the 10 trillion-yen (about $74 billion) fund set up by the Japanese government to support universities, and stated that it is a promising step toward reviving Japan's declining research activities, but it will take years for the results to show up in the rankings.

    (Japanese original by Shimpei Torii, Science & Environment News Department)

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