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The University of Tokyo was built as the first national university of Japan, meant to flagship the Japanese quality of education, and it has done so across the ages. Often claimed as one of the best universities in Japan, the name UTokyo echoes even in the global rankings.
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The University of Tokyo has a long, illustrious history, dating as far back as the Meiji era. First chartered in 1877, UTokyo is the first of the Imperial Universities. It is considered one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in the whole of Asia, as well as one of the world's best universities. In 2020, Utokyo garnered 36th in the World University Rankings and 7th in the Impact Rankings. Meanwhile, Utokyo ranked 24 in the QS World University Ranking, and it was considered as #1 in the whole of Japan. The 2020 statistics were not a surprise as the university has consistently been in the top 100 in these rankings for years.
※ The World University Rankings, "The University of Tokyo" ※ QS Top Universities, "The University of Tokyo"
Because of its high-quality education, applicants to UTokyo’s programs number almost 10,000 annually. But getting into the university is very difficult, thanks to the stringent screening process for both local and international student hopefuls. Only 31% of applicants will be successful. Due to the low acceptance rate, success in entering the university already brings students and their families innumerable pride.
※ The University of Tokyo, "Applications and Admissions"
UTokyo’s prestige comes from the number of notable alumni it has produced. Fifteen of Japan’s Prime Ministers have graduated from the University. Ten alumni of UTokyo have become recipients of the Nobel Prize. Some of the more notable names include Professor Takaaki Kajita, Yoshinori Ohsumi, and Masatoshi Koshiba. Two alumni, Kunihiko Kodaira and Kiyosi Ito, have received the Gauss Prize while four, Toyo Ito, Kenzo Tange, Fumihiko Maki, and Arata Isozaki have received the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Meanwhile, a huge percentage of government employees are also graduates from UTokyo. Aside from its graduates, the University is known as a top research institution in the country, specializing in natural and the social sciences.
Moreover, graduating from the University guarantees employment in some top companies in Japan and around the world. To illustrate, in 2010, Weekly Economist showed that graduates from the University were the 12th most hired employees in the 400 major companies in Japan. Also, in 2011, the University was awarded as the second-best university in the world by the Mines ParisTech. Next to Harvard University, executive positions in the Fortune 500 companies are often graduates from the University of Tokyo.
※ MINES ParisTech, "Classement International Professionnel Des Etablissements D'enseignement Superieur," p.23
Today, there are roughly 27,000 students enrolled in the University of Tokyo, 11% of whom are international students. Students are divided into ten faculties and fifteen graduate schools. Some subjects being taught at the university include Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Biological Sciences, Business and Management, Architecture, Physics and Astronomy, Education, Development Students, Medicine, Law, Psychology, and Computer Science, among others.
※ The University of Tokyo, "UTokyo by the Numbers"
UTokyo also offers two undergraduate programs that were designed for international students. The courses are taught entirely in English and are aptly named Programs in English at Komaba (PEAK). It includes the International Program on Japan in East Asia and the International Program on Environmental Sciences. An all-English undergraduate transfer program was also opened in 2014 by the School of Science. The program is called the Global Science Course, which accepts transferees from abroad who are in their third year of undergraduate studies. The program’s main goal is to develop future leaders in an international environment. All of the English programs have their own application process that is separate from the traditional programs conducted in Japanese.
There are also short-term and special programs available for international students all over the globe. Though there are certain restrictions for specific programs, like only students from partner universities may apply, these programs are a good way to experience the University. For more information, here is a list of available programs:
The University of Tokyo has five campuses, but its most popular is that of the Hongo and Komaba Campuses. The main campus at Hongo houses the University's older buildings. The estate was once owned by the Maeda family, feudal lords during the Edo period. Some of the well-known landmarks in the Hongo Campus include the Red Gate, locally called Akamon, and the Sanshiro Pond, which are both relics from the Edo era. The Hongo campus also hosts the Yasuda Auditorium, the Medical Experimental Research Building, the General Library, the Information Center, the Letters Building, and the Faculty of Engineering, to name a few. Third and fourth-year undergraduate students attend their classes at this campus.
Meanwhile, the Komaba campus is considered as the "new" campus as it houses some of the more advanced facilities and campus services of the University of Tokyo. If you enter UTokyo in your freshman year, then this is where you're most likely to spend your first two years of college. Also, international students attend their classes here.
Another important campus is that of Shirokanedai, which houses the Human Genome Center and hosts the largest supercomputer for this field.
Aside from the many educational opportunities at the University of Tokyo, overseas students also get extended support from enrollment, visa processing, and even housing. International students also enjoy a large number of activities and events such as field trips and Japanese festivals to help them adjust to Japan's academic and social life. A student organization hosts some of these activities, the University itself sponsors others.
Meanwhile, the University issues special certificates for students to avail of student travel discounts. For example, students can get commuter certificates to acquire a commuter pass from train stations or bus stops closest to the student's residence to the station closest to the UTokyo campus. Students are also eligible for a 20% discount on trains, boats, and other transportation. These will come useful during extracurricular activities organized by the school, as well as other school events. Visits to the National Museum of Nature and Science, the Tokyo National Museum, and the National Museums of Art are discounted for the University of Tokyo students.
※ The University of Tokyo, "Admission Fee, Tuition and Exemptions" ※ The University of Tokyo, "Student Discounts (Commuting, Travel and Selected Museums)"
As of 2020, the annual tuition fee totals 535,800 yen for undergraduate students, but there is a separate admission fee which must be paid upon enrollment. Students are also required to pay an examination fee, which is payable in two installments. Some students may no longer be required to pay the admission fee, but this is subject to specific conditions.
Scholarships are also available for both local and international students and are often granted by external institutions. Some of the few private organizations offering scholarships to the University are the
and many more. For a more complete list, check out the university’s scholarship page. The University has also set up a support fund for international students, which may be accessed during emergencies.
The University of Tokyo may be one of the most difficult schools to get accepted to in Japan, but studying there is both exciting and rewarding. It is quite challenging to be admitted to such a competitive and reputable university, but finding a job after studying made it easy! As it is known as the most prestigious university in Asia, graduates of the university can expect to be hired for better positions, whether in Japan or any part of the world.
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