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Japanese unis receive ¥7.7bn for rankings boost

The Japanese government has announced ¥7.7bn (US$72m) funding for 37 universities to boost globalisation efforts and amplify its presence in global academic rankings through the ‘Top Global Universities’ project.

The University of Tokyo, currently Japan's highest ranked university, was among funding recipients. Photo: Akuppa John Wigham,

Only two Japanese institutions made the top THE World University Rankings 100 this year, and Kyoto University fell seven places

Thirteen ‘Type A’ universities will receive an annual ¥500m (US$4.57m) over the next decade, which the government hopes will propel 10 into the THE World University Rankings top 100 – up from two this year.

An annual ¥500m (US$4.57m) has been allocated to 13 ‘Type A’ universities over the next decade

While Tokyo University remained steady as Asia’s top contender in 23rd place, Kyoto University fell seven places to 59th in the 2014 rankings.

Rankings Editor Phil Baty called the initiative “very positive news” given that Japan’s position is under threat, due largely to a failure to hire internationally and a tendency to be “isolated and inward looking”, which the new funding aims to combat.

“Universities in the world are engaged in fierce competition,” Toshio Hirano, President of Osaka University, which has been nominated a Type A institution, commented. “Even in such a setting, Osaka University will make every effort to become a globally-esteemed university by demonstrating its high quality of education and research.”

The money will support the university’s internationalisation efforts such as the establishment of ‘World Tekijuku’ global graduate schools by 2017 and introducing a three-semester system instead of the traditional Japanese two-semester year.

It also aims to increase the number of its international joint labs for overseas researchers from 22 to 100, and will offer MOOCs through edX.

Meanwhile, Waseda University plans to increase its ratio of international students from 8% to 19% by doubling the courses it offers taught in a foreign language and tripling the number of students it sends abroad to 10,650 by 2023.

Under the government plans, the remaining 24 ‘Type B’ institutions will receive a combined ¥300m each year, which they will use to implement measures such as attracting more international students and faculty in order to become models for globalisation.

International Christian University (ICU) will use its funding to replenish its language and liberal arts programmes, building collaboration with liberal arts colleges around the world, as well as revamping its admissions system to make it more accessible to international students.

This is the latest announcement in the rollout of the ¥43.2bn (US$403m) ’Abeducation’ plan which aims, among other goals, to double the number of Japanese students overseas to 120,000 and meet the Global 30 target of having 300,000 international students in the country by 2020.

However, the G30 initiative, which was supposed to sponsor English-taught courses at 30 Japanese universities, was branded a ‘flop’ when funding cuts meant only 13 universities participated, casting some doubt over the future success of the Top Global Universities project.

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