Considering studying in Japan? Read our guide to find out everything you need to know about Japanese universities and student life, and what steps to take next.
Known for making things smaller, faster and first, Japan boasts the third-largest economy in the world. Its economic strength is at least partly due to the strong research and development industry that underlies successful international brands such as Nissan, Toyota, Panasonic, Canon and Sony – as well as producing robots for every need imaginable. Unsurprisingly, an excellent higher education system lies behind all this innovation.
Universities in Japan
If you fancy studying in Japan, the homeland of the bullet train, Nintendo Wii, instant noodles and karaoke, you’ll be pleased to know Japan wants you too.
The government is keen to attract more international students, and has set a target of having 300,000 foreign students in the country by 2020 As a result, universities are focusing on making life easier for foreign students, from the application process all the way through to finding a job after graduation.
One thing that will certainly help to attract international students is the introduction of more courses taught partly or entirely in English. Other schemes to attract more overseas students include:
Hiring special staff to support international students
Allowing students to start courses in September (instead of April, which is when Japan’s academic year usually starts)
Recruiting more teaching staff from outside Japan
Increasing exchange programs with universities in other countries
Aware that living and studying in Japan is expensive compared to many countries, the government has also introduced additional financial support for foreign students. Various university scholarships and grants are available through the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO).
There are approximately 780 universities in Japan, of which about 80 percent are private. There are also specialized schools and colleges that provide more vocational types of degree.
The nation’s strongest global ranking is currently claimed by the University of Tokyo, which ranks 23rd in the QS World University Rankings 2019, up six places from the previous year. Close behind are Kyoto University (35th) and Tokyo Institute of Technology (58th), with a further 41 Japanese universities ranked among the world’s best.
University of Tokyo University of Tokyo
The University of Tokyo, or “Todai”, continues to be Japan’s highest entrant in the overall world rankings, and has a very strong global reputation across a wide range of disciplines. Featured in 41 out of the 48 subjects in the QS World University Rankings by Subject, the University of Tokyo performs very well, ranked among the global top 100 for every one of these subjects. Most impressively, it appears in the world's top 10 for modern languages, physics and astronomy, chemistry, mechanical engineering, and chemical engineering.
Based in Japan’s old capital city of Kyoto, Kyoto University is the second highest-ranked university in the country, up one place to rank 35th. It also has a strong presence in the subject rankings, featuring among the world’s best in 35 of the 48 subjects covered in the latest edition. Of these, it ranks within the world's top 50 for several subjects, including biological sciences, chemical engineering, civil engineering, materials sciences, modern languages and physics & astronomy.
Located in the third most populous city in Japan, Osaka University, also known as “Handai”, is ranked 67th in the latest QS World University Rankings. It holds a strong reputation across a number of research fields, featuring among the world’s best for 27 subjects in the subject rankings, including the global top 50 for chemistry, chemical engineering, physics and astronomy, dentistry and materials sciences.
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