Japanese Perspectives

When certified evaluation and accreditation as well as national university corporation evaluation became compulsory in Japan in 2004, university rankings suddenly lost their popularity among the Japanese public. There are two reasons for this. First, more reliable and detailed pieces of information were made public as a result of these two types of evaluations, carried out by public institutions. Japanese tend to believe what the government or public sector says on issues related to education. Another reason is that the two types of evaluation accumulated a vast amount of data, which has no comparison to the foregoing attempts in quantity as well as in quality.

In order to understand the Japanese perspectives with respect to university rankings, one has always to take into account their mentality and traditional way of thinking when considering the public sectors. However, as regards international ranking, Japanese higher education authorities study them carefully, which may lead to a change in policy and/or the launching of new funding schemes. The Japanese are more concerned with information coming from Europe and America than from within. By looking at international rankings, one can notice that, generally speaking, small institutions cannot achieve high ranking. One of the great concerns of high school students who wish to get into a university is the choice of a major. The detailed rankings in different disciplines provide these students with very useful information in this regard. Rankings can be a useful transparency instrument. However, great care is necessary for interpreting the results, as the number of indicators considered for ranking is rather limited. 

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