11 October 2017

Upcoming lecture to assess quality of Japan’s universities

Professor Simon Marginson will give a lecture entitled How good are Japan’s research universities in global terms, and how much does it matter? on 16 November at the Center for Global Initiatives at Osaka University.

World university rankings have brought to the worldwide research university sector a closer focus on global comparison and competition, though not all ranking data are valid and reliable as a guide to the real capacity and performance of universities.

Rankings based on reputable measures of publications and citations are useful tools. Multi-indicator rankings that arbitrarily combine heterogeneous elements are not helpful, unless the indicators are separated; and rankings based on surveyed reputation tell us nothing about objective quality, though they may tell us about reputation itself.

Regardless, university rankings touch deep concerns in Japan about the nation’s global position, especially in the light of the central role played in modern societies by science and technology, and regional tensions in the Chinese civilizational zone in East Asia, broadly defined to include Japan and Korea.

The lecture reviews the absolute and comparative performance of Japan’s research universities, and trends in performance, in the light of data in the Leiden, ARWU and Scimago collections.

Professor Marginson will consider both regional and global comparisons. He will situate these data in relation to the normative questions of competition/cooperation, and comparison/singularity, questions which provide each of us with tools for interpreting the performance data.