Japan ranks 21st in ranking of world's top higher education systems


The second annual Universitas 21 rankings of countries which are the "best" at providing higher education were announced Wednesday at an event at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada.

Japan has fallen one place to 21st in the ranking of 50 countries. Despite showing improvement in terms of resources - rising from 29th to 25th position - all other measures used saw Japan fall in the rankings, impacting on the overall result.

The Universitas 21 ranking is the only ranking in the world to benchmark national higher education systems, a crucial measure for governments whose nation’s economic development depends upon an educated and skilled workforce and technological improvements, based on research, that raise productivity.

Universitas 21 is a global network of leading research universities. Research authors at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, University of Melbourne, looked at data from 50 countries across 22 different measures. The range of measures is grouped under four headings: resources (investment by government and private sector), output (research performance as well as the production of an educated workforce which meets labour market needs), connectivity (international networks and collaborations which now include web-based measures) and environment (government policy and regulation, diversity and participation opportunities). Population size is also taken into account.

Overall, the top five countries in the 2013 rankings are: USA (unchanged since 2012), Sweden (unchanged since 2012), Switzerland (6th in 2012), Canada (3rd in 2012) and Denmark (unchanged at number 5). The largest changes in the rankings occurred as a result of improved measures becoming available for a number of non-OECD countries. The largest increase occurs for Malaysia which improves nine places to 27th.

Government funding of higher education as a percentage of GDP is highest in Saudi Arabia followed by Malaysia and Finland, but when private expenditure is added in, funding is highest in the United States and Korea followed by Canada, Chile, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

Worldwide, governments are spending more on higher education as a percentage of GDP. Compared with 2012 rankings the median level of spending has increased from 0.95% to 1.10% of GDP which means that government spending needs to have increased to maintain a nation’s ranking. Norway, where government spending fell as a share of GDP, has fallen from equal first ranked in this measure in 2012 to 14th in 2013. The United States has slipped from 19 to 27 and Croatia from 28 to 37. Conversely, Russia’s ranking in this measure rose from 26 to 18.

Expenditure on research and development is highest in Denmark and Sweden.

In most countries, females make up at least 50% of students but in only four countries do females comprise at least 50% of academic staff (Finland, New Zealand, Russia and Thailand). The countries with the lowest proportion of female staff are Iran and Japan.

International students form the highest proportions of total student numbers in Singapore, Australia, Austria, the UK and Switzerland. The largest increase from the 2012 rankings occurred in Hong Kong which rose from 21st to 15th place. International research collaboration is most prominent in Switzerland, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Denmark and Belgium and is lowest in Iran, Turkey and China. Higher education institutions in Sweden and the Netherlands have the most extensive open access website material but U.S. institutions dominate the extent to which external agents access information on websites.

Switzerland and Sweden top the rankings for world class universities per head of population, but the United States and United Kingdom are ranked first and second on the quality of "best three universities."

The United States dominates the number of articles published with China producing a little over half of the United States number. The next ranked countries, UK and Japan, each produce about one-quarter of the United States’ total. Sweden produces the largest number of articles per head of population, followed by Switzerland, Finland and Australia.

Enrolment rates are highest in Korea, followed by Canada, Finland and the United States. The stock of graduates as a percentage of the workforce is highest in Canada and Israel.

Overall the scores for output (research performance and the production of an educated workforce which meets labor market needs) are highest for the United States followed by the United Kingdom and Canada.

Lead author, Professor Ross Williams at the University of Melbourne, said: “The Universitas 21 rankings provide a benchmark that a country can use to evaluate the performance of its higher education system against the world’s best and against other countries in their region or at similar levels of economic development.

“The message from the 2013 rankings is that in a competitive global world if a nation does not continually improve its system of higher education its relative performance will decline. In the medium term this is likely to show up in reduced economic competitiveness.”

© Japan Today

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To be fair, Japan would have scored much higher had the rankings meassured (a) not taking classes seriously, (b) ration of women to men in the English Literature departments, and (c) effort put into arranging nomikais.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

I'm surprised Japan improved in the 'resources' category: for the past five or six years university budgets have been cut every year and this will continue into the future.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am surprised that USA ranked No. 1. Something wrong with this ranking system, I believe.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

The countries with the lowest proportion of female staff are Iran and Japan.

No shockers there. And those that DO work are usually PT teachers, umarried and either wanting to get married or quit or have long given up on the idea of finding someone as their job "intinidtates" men.

Conbini, LOL. So true!

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Enrolment rates are highest in Korea, followed by Canada

That's a big problem in Canada. A gov't official said recently: "We've got too many BAs and not enough welders." Canada is increasingly becoming a blue-collar society due to the global commodities boom, while its IT and manufacturing are being rapidly outsourced. It's also why so many Canadians teach English in Japan and Korea: the lack of white-collar work at home.

So Canada doesn't need all this post-secondary education, and it should be cutting back.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Universities get far too much funding. But then again theyre more of a business than an educational institution. Colleges and trade programs should get more. Get into a trade and youll do alright.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I think it's time Japan starts embracing non-traditional enrollment by offering more online, correspondance, and night time courses for busy people. This would be an easy and dramatic improvement in underutilized campuses.

From my attempts to find such a program, they simply don't exist in the community I live in- which has a population of roughly 250,000 people.

The problem in most Japanese colleges, the last class of the day begins at around 5:00 P.M. and they also generally do not allow part-time enrollment.

Creating a stronger non-traditional environment (with evening and online classes) may also give those busy Japanese Kaishain an incentive to get out of work early and brush up on career skills!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Online education is not recognized by the government of Japan.

JANE, Japan Association of New Economy (Keidanran spinoff started by Rakuten) is currently heavily lobbying the Japanese government to change its dinosaur views of the Internet. The CEO of Rakuten is on Abe's economic council so I do expect some regulatory changes to come this year...hopefully.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Upgrayedd, that's great news! I can only hope the change comes somewhat soon.

Seriously, Japanese colleges (from my experience studying abroad, and speaking with friends) run a 5 period school day that mirrors my middle school.

It's truly out of date in modern higher education.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

But, anyone who has worked in the Japanese university system knows it is all smoke and mirrors based on class averages from tests that are modified to suit the students' abilities and not a true reflection of the level of education. At one of the colleges I worked in, 50% of their grade was made up attendance. They didn't have to do anything besides show up!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@ Disillusioned - yep - same deal at the Uni I teach at too. Furthermore,they only have to show up 50 percent of the time to pass. It is actually close to impossible to fail students in my faculty - and plenty of them deserve to!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Furthermore,they only have to show up 50 percent of the time to pass.

Then your school isn't following the munkasho guidelines. 1/3 of classes is the cut off. It they miss 1/3, they automatically fail. Pretty much the only way many can fail their students these days. You also aren't allowed to give them a mark for attendance/absences. If your school is doing this, I'd complain.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Go Sweden! :DD

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm really surprised the UK didn't make it into the top 5 systems in the world.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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