Globetrotting Waseda Graduates

As of writing, I’m working as an intern for a multinational professional service firm in Manila, Philippines. While talking with my colleague last week, I was surprised to learn that he also actually attended Waseda University for his undergraduate education. This is when I was amazed by how Waseda graduates can thrive in different parts of the world. 

Although the university is one of the highly esteemed universities in Japan, I never expected to be working with a fellow graduate. In my two-month internship at this firm, I’ve had an opportunity to meet at least six graduates of Waseda through client meetings and casual dinners with employees of other companies. Even the director of my division graduated from the same degree program as me.

Waseda University in the QS Graduate Employability Ranking

“The university posted a higher rank than other top-tier universities such as the National University of Singapore and Keio University.”

These highly unexpected encounters with Waseda graduates in Manila made me wonder about the employability ranking of my university compared to other universities in Japan and abroad. To my surprise, it turns out that Waseda University ranks 27th in the whole world and 2nd in Japan on the QS Graduate Employability Ranking 2019. The university posted a higher rank than other top-tier universities such as the National University of Singapore and Keio University. There was even a year that Waseda ranked higher than The University of Tokyo in this ranking!

What is QS Graduate Employability Ranking?

First, let me explain to you the QS Graduate Employability Ranking. Quacquarelli Symonds or QS is a British company specializing in education that publishes an annual ranking of universities all over the world. Aside from the general university rankings, the company also publishes other specialized rankings (which of course also uses different metrics) such as QS Business Masters Rankings, QS University Rankings by Location, and so on. The QS Graduate Employability Rankings is grounded on five major metrics: employer-student connections, alumni outcomes, employer reputation, partnerships with employers, and graduate employment rate. As of 2019, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (United States) topped the ranking while The University of Tokyo is number one in Japan. The scores of Waseda University in this year’s ranking is shown in the table below.

Overall
Score
81.7
Employer-
Student
Connections
82.8
Alumni Outcomes79.4
Employer Reputation78
Partnerships
with Employers
79.9
Graduate Employment Rate77.8
Rank27

Even after seeing all this information, I was still skeptical, to be honest. I thought to myself: how would Waseda even beat universities like the University of British Columbia and even Brown University, which is part of the Ivy League, in a ranking for employability. Waseda is renowned in Japan, but I never expected it to surpass these kinds of institutions in worldwide rankings. That is why the skeptical me conducted further research on how the university attained its scores on some metrics.

Prominent Waseda Graduates All Over the World

For alumni outcomes, I’ve tried looking for notable alumni of Waseda University. It turns out prominent figures like Lee Byung-Chul (Founder of Samsung), Hiroshi Yamauchi (President of Nintendo), Tadashi Yanai (CEO of Fast Retailing and Uniqlo), Haruki Murakami (novelist, recipient of Franz Kafka Prize, and my favorite Japanese author) graduate from the same university as me! My amazement didn’t stop there. Upon checking the THE Alma Mater Index 2017, Waseda has produced a total of 6 business executives who are leading companies that are part of the Fortune Global 500. This score is on par with other selective institutions like Yale University and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Employer Reputation and Employment Rate

I’ve tried to look for proof of Waseda’s good employer reputation by looking for ranking that compares universities in Japan based on the number of students that they send to 400 major companies in Japan. This ranking can be useful to understand the extent of Waseda’s reputation among employers since the more students that they employ from a certain university means that the university’s brand has become a signal for the quality of labor.

Based on a ranking by Toyo Keizai Online, Waseda ranks 8th in terms of employment at 400 major companies in Japan. Waseda exceeded other equally prestigious universities like Osaka University and Kyoto University in terms of employment at such companies.

Moreover, according to Waseda, the employment rate of its pioneer English-based degree program, School of International Liberal Studies, stands at 75.9% as of 2019, while 8.9% are pursuing further studies abroad. Major employers of Waseda graduates include multinational companies/firms like Accenture, Deloitte, Deutsche Asset Management, Goldman Sachs, Google, IBM Japan, Proctor and Gamble, and so on.

Source: http://www.1997waseda.com/

Employer-Student Connections

Another benefit of being a graduate of Waseda is the strong alumni network of the university. Presently, the Waseda alumni network, or Tomonkai has approximately more than 1,300 chapters in Japan and all over the world. Its international chapters include cities/countries like Cambodia, Moscow, Brazil, Kenya, and the Philippines. Given the wide network and strong alumni outcomes of Waseda, the graduates can take advantage of this network to secure employment not just in Japan, but also in other countries.

While on my way to a client meeting last week, I was catching up with the director of our division about the current situation in Waseda. He mentioned to me that it was through the Tomonkai that he was able to easily adjust to the environment in Manila and acquired connections in the country. According to him, the Manila Tomonkai currently has more than 100 active members that help each other to survive in Manila. Just imagine if in Manila alone has 100 members, how many members are there in Japan and the United States!

This strong alumni network will be useful when you’ll be working as an expat in uncharted territory or even just for job-hunting in Japan. Chances are, Waseda graduates are going to be your boss or interviewer!

After reading all these data and information, I realized that maybe I should be more appreciative of my university. I may have underestimated it; but after checking the data, I learned that it is on par or even higher than other prestigious universities in other countries. It is amazing how graduates of a university in a country that is homogenous and remote can easily thrive after graduation in Japan and all over the world.

Sources:

賢治, 安. (2019, September 7). 最新!「有名企業への就職率が高い大学」TOP200. Retrieved from 東洋経済ONLINE: https://toyokeizai.net/articles/-/301227?page=3

Elmes, J. (2017, January 19). THE Alma Mater Index 2017: who educates the global business elite? Retrieved from Times Higher Education: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/features/alma-mater-index-2017-who-educates-global-business-elite

Quacquarelli Symonds. (2019). QS Graduate Employability Ranking 2019. Retrieved from QS Top Universities: https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/employability-rankings/2019

Waseda Univerrsity. (2019, July 18). Career. Retrieved from School of International Liberal Studies – Waseda University: https://www.waseda.jp/fire/sils/en/students/support/career/