"Does Japan focus too much on educational history?"

This morning, the Nippon Television network featured a report on the announcement of the Tokyo University (aka Todai for short) entrance exams. With 3,000 new Todai freshers, the focus of the feature was on three students, their study patterns and their families. Needless to say, all three students studied in the region of 16 hours a day, foregoing TV, friends and personal time for a year to pass these notoriously difficult examinations. Also, the students’ families were either Tokyo University, Ochanomizu University or other such high ranking alumni. These students were bred to succeed in a studious and university-goal focused environment—no wonder they made it passed the exams.

However, one can’t help but wonder, would we ever see this kind of media coverage and focus on students that get into Oxford, Harvard or Australian National University in their respective countries? Probably not. And these universities are much higher in the world rankings than Tokyo University*.

The media attention is reflective of the Japan’s worship of educational history. Prospective employers choose candidates based largely on their university, with strict guidelines as to the required numbers of new employees from certain universities. For example, Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ bank may require 40 Todai students, 30 Keio university students, 5 ICU students and 1 Shikoku university student. What is even more extreme is that a Shikoku university employee is likely to find it really hard to get promoted, regardless of how many years he has worked at the company.

Of course, educational history is important in any country. However, Japan is extreme in its respect for prestigious universities and the Japanese media do not question whether this respect really is as well deserved as they make it out to be.

*Times Higher Education World Rankings:
http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/hybrid.asp?typeCode=144


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The more the media bang on about how we shouldn't revere the top universities, the more it reinforces their position. and this is not just in Japan. Take this rant on the BBC:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/mike_baker/2212625.stm

All very interesting, but another 2000 words about getting to Oxbridge is probably counter productive given the journalists' point of view. I suppose the difference is that in Japan the sensation factor of a story is "look how hard the applicants work" which is more establishment than in the UK where it tends to be "look how lazy (but wealthy) applicants are" Both fail to get to the point. What readers really want to know is how the process really works. Why are the kids getting pressure? Are they lost if they don't get in? How are admissions tutors making their decisions?
And of course, what funny questions do they get asked at interview?

i agree with it..Japan have focused on education after the second war.

get into Oxford, Harvard or Australian National University in their

I had to laugh at this. While ANU (Australian National University) is not a university of last choice it is not in the same class as the others listed and is rarely a students first choice, except maybe if they live in Canberra.

On the topic I don't disagree with using the quality of the university for for being a factor in deciding who to employ but after that promotion should be based on their ability to do the work well.

ANU is a top university. Universities are not ranked just on general public perception but on many different factors one of which is research output.

Although it may not be first choice for undergrads more keen on looking good and socializing in the bigger cities, it is high on the list for post-grad/research.

ANU was in fact established as a post-grad only institution. A legacy which continues to influence the university`s funding and academic structure.

ANU is ranked so highly because it creates opportunity through extensively funding post-grad/research projects.
The quality of the research and results that come out of ANU is of a high enough standard to rank ANU 16th in the world.

Not So Majime Aussie

p.s. I am in no way involved with ANU.

On the topic I don't disagree with using the quality of the university for for being a factor in deciding who to employ but after that promotion should be based on their ability to do the work well.

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