I met several foreign students who told me that Okayama University is a low-rank university with mediocre publications. The statement was made while pointing out that many other universities in Japan have a better position in a certain ranking system, which unfortunately I am not familiar with. Interestingly, they were students of Okayama University itself, not an outsider. Really, I could simply pretend nothing happened. But let’s get straight with the title: at an instant sight using various ranking parameters, the answer may be yes; but as a place to study, which is the substance of a university, it doesn’t even half true.
Given a list of all universities in this world, people have come up with many ways to “sort” that list and published it under a fancy name of ranking system. For foreign students who travel a long way to Japan, especially from a developing country; to merely gain some self-esteem is straightforward, but craving more on self-improvement is tricky.
There are seven imperial Universities in Japan and they have a long history that naturally followed by fame and reputation in the eyes of society, industries, and even government. Unluckily, Okayama University is not that old. If you are looking for self-esteem, then there is no point to choose Okayama University because it is meaningless to boast “I’m an alumnus of Okayama University” in front of the alumnus of imperial universities, no matter how good your research and publication are.
As for self-improvement, the tricky part is that the university is far from being a magic box that can transform an “idiot” into a “genius”. University with a long history and reputation, of course, naturally invites many students to apply, and they can freely select the best of the best while discarding others to less famous universities. However, those who look for self-improvement should look at the fact that Okayama University is a research university. According to an associate professor, at the time of writing, Okayama University stands in the 13th position based on the research funds received by Universities in Japan. That means, other than the imperial universities, Okayama university is inferior only to five universities in terms of research funds gaining. When we are talking about research, it is really more accurate to look at the laboratory where the research actually rolls, i.e. make a judgment by looking at the individual laboratory. As an example, when I am typing this, the boss in my current laboratory is 52 years young, and the associate is 40 years young, Both of them are used to publish their work in Nature, PNAS, Physical Review Letters, and other journals of high reputation.
When I heard from those who regret that they are studying in a University which they think mediocre, I could not help but wonder, “You guys can use the internet and get information of a university ranking, or a laboratory along with its research achievements; yet why did you choose a university or a laboratory that you think mediocre? And what is the point of complaining about what you have chosen?” But for those who ‘mistakenly’ chose a mediocre university, fear not, because you are a free human: you live on once, so just quit and move to an ‘elite’ university.