Thursday, June 19, 2014

Japan continues to be Asian giant in higher education, China closing in

Japan continues it's dominance in Asian higher education by holding the top position yet again in the Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings 2014, released a few hours ago on Thursday. The country has 20 representatives in the Top 100 table. But breathing down its neck is mainland China, which made significant stride registering 18 of its universities in the list, an increase of three since last rankings.

As reported by Phil Baty, editor of THE Rankings, University of Tokyo leads the pack in the Asia university rankings. However, Japan's strength came down by three from that of the 2013 list. Meanwhile in addition to China's 18, the Chinese special administrative region of Hong Kong recorded six of its own.

Holding fort for Japan is University of Tokyo at number one and Kyoto University retaining its 17th place. The Tokyo Institute of Technology holds on to 13th position, and Osaka University moves up two places to 15th, as per THE report. However, Keio University fell to 72 from 53, while Kobe University moved down to 88 from 73.

As reported in THE, at UTokyo, at least, there is growing acknowledgement that Japan's historic dominance of the region in higher education terms can no longer be taken for granted. The key concern is a relative lack of funding. Junichi Hamada, the university's president, tells THE: "With the financial ability (and the human resources) that Chinese universities have, they are a big threat to us. If we look towards the future, over the next 10 years, in specific areas perhaps they may overtake us. But it will still take time."

For China, Peking is the top university at 5th, though it has lost one place from 2013 rankings. Beijing's Tsinghua University is at 6th, while many others improved their rankings significantly. The University of Science and Technology of China has risen four places to 21st; Renmin University of Chinahas jumped from 41st to joint 32nd; Zhejiang University is up four places to 41st; and Wuhan University of Technology has moved from joint 58th to 49th. The Chinese entrants in the top 100 are Tianjin University (62nd), East China Normal University (joint 67th), Hunan University (81st) and Tongji University (87th).

Accoring to THE, one outstanding regional performer is Singapore: although it has just two institutions in the top 100, the first, the National University of Singapore, is in second place and the other, Nanyang Technological University, is 11th. Another exemplar of Asian success in higher education and research is South Korea.

As per THE analysis, South Korea is another exemplar of Asian success in higher education. "The country spent almost $60 billion on R&D in 2011 - some 4% of its gross domestic product. This commitment to research and education has supported its leading institutions to make serious gains in the rankings. South Korea has 14 representatives in the 2014 Asia table, including three in the top 10."

Seoul National University is the biggest riser at the top of the table, moving from eighth in 2013 to fourth. Close behind is the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (rising two places to eighth). Pohang University of Science and Technology completes the top 10 trio, although it has lost ground since last year, falling five places to 10th.

Source: The Times of India, June 19, 2014

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