Which is the best university in Japan

Japan's universities: The whole country is an insider tip


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No, he's not a dropout. Alexander Rothkopf attaches importance to this statement, and he also doesn't like it when the same clichés are thrown at him: Japan? That is only something for a few culturally obsessed Japanologists who like to brush characters and eat with chopsticks. No way, says Rothkopf, a graduate physicist, doctoral student and member of a research group at Tokyo University. "What the Japanese are doing here is world class. The problem is that many Germans don't notice it."

In fact, it is a strange contradiction: Japan's universities are far ahead in an international comparison, Rothkopf's university, for example, made it into the top 20 worldwide in the highly regarded Shanghai ranking - ahead of ETH Zurich, all of the French Grandes Écoles and the best German universities anyway. And yet the universities of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka are considered exotic in this country - at best. The normal case is that most German students have never heard of their existence. Just 300 of them come here to study every year, plus just under 300 young scientists and a few dozen professors. Around 30 times as many Germans are drawn to the USA - most of them to universities that are far worse than the Japanese. But the language and cultural barrier, it seems, is simply too high on the way to East Asia.

English language programs are designed to attract the foreigners

That could soon change: the Japanese government has recognized the image problem of its universities and has launched an ambitious program. With the help of "Global 30" the number of foreign students in Japan is to be tripled within a few years - an enormous increase of 200,000, which, if at all, can only be achieved by multiplying the number of English-language lectures. Up to 30 universities in the country are therefore to internationalize their study programs on a large scale over the next few years. So far, 13 universities have been awarded for their concepts in the tender for the program million, including, hardly surprisingly, Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. The calculation of the Japanese: highly educated immigrants should fill the gap torn by the enormous decline in birth rates among skilled workers and academics. The government has announced new scholarship programs so that less wealthy foreigners can afford the several thousand euros in tuition fees. However, due to the lack of broad interest, Germans have not found it particularly difficult to get financial aid up to now.

Once the foreigners have dared to attend the island nation's universities, many of them develop into even bigger fans of the Japanese way of life than they were before they arrived. Which doesn't mean they don't like to start their crushes with a series of head-shaking stories. Alexander Rothkopf, for example, then talks about his room search. A lease with a foreigner? Impossible without Japanese guarantors. Many apartment advertisements are even provided with additions such as "Foreigners not allowed" right from the start. The lifestyle of the foreigners is "so different", it is said to justify. Sometimes there is still a long way to go towards a cosmopolitan society for Japan - and the government's Global 30 initiative is all the more courageous in view of the current foreigner quota of around three percent across the country.