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View the full results for the Times Higher Education Japan University Rankings 2017

The University of Tokyo has topped a new Times Higher Education ranking of the best universities in Japan, based on the teaching and learning environments that institutions offer students.

The country’s flagship research university takes the number one spot in the THE Japan University Rankings, which was produced in partnership with Japanese education company Benesse, while Tohoku University is second and Kyoto University is third.

The table, which includes almost 300 universities, was modelled on the inaugural Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education US College Rankings, which was published in September 2016.

Like the US rankings, the Japan list is based on four broad “pillars” (resources, engagement, outcomes and environment) that focus primarily on what the institutions offer students.

Overall, the country’s national universities are the top performers in the ranking. Of the 406 universities that THE calculated a ranking for, 73 are national universities, 89 per cent of which make the top 150. In comparison, only 22 per cent of the 288 private universities make the top 150.

The ranking is led by the National Seven Universities – a group of institutions founded by the Empire of Japan between 1886 and 1939, and run by the imperial government until the end of the Second World War.

Along with Tokyo, Tohoku and Kyoto, this alliance includes Nagoya University (joint fourth), Osaka University (sixth), Kyushu University (seventh) and Hokkaido University (eighth).

Analysis of the data reveals that most of the National Seven feature in the top 10 per cent of the 406-strong group when it comes to their resources (income, research output and students’ scores in the national mock university entrance exam) and reputation among academics, employers and careers advisers, but are held back by their proportion of international students and staff.

Just three institutions stay in the top 10 per cent across all four pillars of the ranking: Nagoya, Osaka and Tsukuba.

Meanwhile, there are seven universities that make the top 100 and are in the top 20 per cent when it comes to the engagement and outcomes pillars, despite the fact that they feature in the bottom 20 per cent for the finance per student metric. These are Doshisha University (35th), Nanzan University (joint 55th), the University of Kitakyushu (62nd), Toyo University (joint 76th), Ryukoku University (joint 80th), Kyoto Sangyo University (88th) and Kanagawa University (joint 89th).

Top 10 institutions in the THE Japan University Ranking

View the full results for the Times Higher Education Japan University Rankings 2017

Island currents

This is because Japanese citizens are typically evaluated by their peers on the basis of the university to which they were admitted, rather than on their academic performance, he says. And once admitted, most students graduate with little difficulty.