University rankings: China challenges Japanese academic supremacy

Irena Barker

While Japanese universities are regarded among the best in Asia, a new ranking shows that Chinese institutions could be set to challenge their traditional supremacy.

While Japan’s University of Tokyo still comes out top of the THE Asia University Rankings 2014 and 20 of its institutions make the top 100 this year, it has lost two from the list in the past 12 months.

China, meanwhile, has gained ground, with its total in the top 100 rising from 15 universities in 2013 to 18 this year.

South Korea is the third most dominant country, with 14 institutions, followed by Taiwan with 13, down from 17 last year.

India is also on the up, with 10 universities in the top 100, up from three last year.

Experts have claimed Japan does not realise that competition between universities in the region has accelerated. “Other Asian countries, by contrast, such as China, Singapore – even the Saudis – are very driven and are working hard to improve their results,” according to Jamil Salmi, an education economist.

Phil Baty, editor of Times Higher Education World University Rankings, said: “The scale and speed of Asia’s development in higher education and research is staggering.

"Many Asian institutions are making strong progress in the World University Rankings, but the global list remains dominated by North America and Western Europe – for now, at least. This new table offers us a clearer picture of the Asian institutions poised to mount a serious challenge to the traditional Western elite.”

THE Asia University Rankings 2014 

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Irena Barker

Irena Barker is a freelance journalist.

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