About Meiji University 

Meiji University (明治大学, Meiji daigaku) traces its origin back to the Meiji era (1868 – 1912) when it was founded in 1881 by three lawyers, Kishimoto Tatsuo, Miyagi Kōzō, and Yashiro Misao as a small institution. After more than a century, the university has established itself as one of the largest universities in Japan. The university comprises 9 faculties with a total of approximately 33,000 students across four campuses in Tokyo and Kawasaki. The flagship campus of the university is in Ochanomizu in Chiyoda Ward of Tokyo.

Meiji University campus

Preserving the tradition since its foundation, Meiji University is well-known in Japan for its School of Law, School of Political Science and Economics, and School of Commerce. The acceptance rate varies by faculty and department, but the average is usually around 15% throughout the university. Many famous alumni of the School of Political Science and Economics progressed to become notable world leaders, such as Miki Takeo and Murayama Tomiichi as two former Prime Ministers of Japan, and Zhou Enlai as a former Prime Minister of China. 

Besides its academic history, Meiji University is also renowned in Tokyo for belonging to “Tokyo-roku-daigaku”, which is translated into “the league of the Tokyo six universities” in English. The league is a Japanese collegiate athletic conference comprising baseball teams, which resembles America’s Ivy League in the US, from six prestigious universities in Tokyo. Five of the universities are private universities, including Meiji University, and one is a national university.

In recent years, Meiji University has opened English-taught programs for international students, as it is one of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s (MEXT) “Global 30” Project universities, referred to as the Super Global Universities Program. 

Rankings of Meiji University 

According to the UK-based 2020 Times Higher Education Ranking, Meiji University is ranked 53rd in Japan and 1001st worldwide. It is considered one of the most prominent private universities in Japan.

Meiji University Nakano campus

According to a survey conducted by UNIVPRESS (Daigaku Tsushin) in 2018, Meiji University was placed No. 1 nationwide in rankings of universities that are popular with students by high school teachers throughout Japan. This was the second time that Meiji University was ranked first since 2013. UNIVPRESS (Daigaku Tsushin) conducted the survey with teachers engaged in academic counseling oriented toward preparing students for college at around 2,000 high schools all over Japan. 

Why is Meiji University Popular?

The reason why Meiji University became the top in the “University popular with students” ranking appears to come from various reasons, notably the conditioning of the campuses, effective representation of gender, and approaches in aspects such as the setup for entrance exams. All of these efforts helped make the university become more attractive to aspiring students. 

1. Campus Conditioning

The breakthrough point in the improvement of the school’s facilities took place in 1998 with the completion of the iconic Liberty Tower, which was completed on the Surugadai Campus. After that, the campus construction continued, and old school buildings around the area were reborn, one after another. With the new finished building, more female students were attracted to applying for the university, which contributed to the rise of high school students’ interests in the university. The increase in the number of female students is a major reason behind the increase in the number of applicants to universities. A similar phenomenon also happened for Waseda University (2nd place) and Hosei University (10th place).


Meiji University Liberty Tower
Liberty Tower, Meiji University

2. Gender Representation

Not limited to school facilities, Meiji University also scored highly in the students’ eyes, thanks to the diversified colleges of choice for female students. In the past, many female applicants were interested in humanities fields, such as the Faculty of Literature and Foreign Languages. However, at Meiji University, in recent years, the number of applicants has increased in other social science departments such as Law, Economics, and Business Administration. Even in STEM fields, the number of female students has also risen in traditionally male-dominated fields, such as Medicine, Agriculture, Science, and Engineering.

3. Examination Reforms

Reforms in the conduct of examinations have also made Meiji University more accessible to students. In 2007, it started to introduce a unified examination for all faculties and set up test venues in rural areas. Due to the falling birthrate and the lower number of students in Japanese society, the university decided to reduce its admission of junior colleges and short-term programs before it became difficult to secure students. Instead, it has paid more attention to strengthening the quality and diversity in the admission of its undergraduate population. A rise in the number of newly established faculties show the endeavors of the university in diversifying the education it offers in modern society. Some examples of these efforts include the establishments of the Faculty of Information and Communication in 2004 and the College of International Japanese Studies in 2008. In 2013, when its new Nakano Campus was completed, the newly established Faculty of Mathematical Sciences and Faculty of International Japanese Studies were placed there. Consequently, applicants, parents, and high school career guidance teachers have highly evaluated that the entire university is undergoing reforms in line with the times thanks to the formation of new faculties.

Nakano Campus, Meiji University

Conclusion 

Meiji University has increasingly improved its position in the eyes of not only domestic Japanese students but also of international students who are interested in studying in Japan. Its timely reforms have helped convey the university’s appeal to students. It can be said that Meiji University has reached its top ranking as a favored university as a result of the success of these reforms. International students coming to Meiji University can expect to experience an environment where the quality of facilities and teaching is constantly enhanced!

References

“Meiji University ranked No.1 for the fifth year in a row for students’ first choice university in the Kanto area” – Meiji University Homepage

https://www.meiji.ac.jp/cip/english/about/news/2016/enjsp30000001dnq.html

“Top 100 universities popular with students” (in Japanese) – Tokyo Keizai Online 

https://toyokeizai.net/articles/-/120684