Why doesn’t Japan do better in international university rankings?

They don’t do that badly- but we are talking about an education-obsessed country that has a far bigger economy than the UK, and the UK does a lot better. Explanations I have heard include young research high flyers leaving Japan for countries where they don’t have their supervisor putting only their name on their research for the first thirty years, not being able to attract similar talent from other countries, not getting lots of money from alumni, and language problems with getting published in the big (usually English language) journals.

I don’t know if these surveys can actually take the education people receive there into account, but the vast majority of the (few) Japanese I know who went to top universities seem totally incapable of imaginative thought and particularly ignorant of the world outside their chosen area- much more so than people in the junior college that I worked in. Of course, that might well have been forced out of them by the preparation to get into those universities and so not necessarily the fault of the unis themselves.

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