I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Times Higher Educational Supplement (THES) 2006 university rankings have assessed Tokai University as the third best private university in Japan. I have just completed a pretty good intensive Japanese course at Tokai but have to admit I was a little taken aback by Tokai's elite status.
Tokai is not considered a particularly prestigious university in Japan. Many other private universities like Sophia University, the International Christian University, Rikkyo, Meiji, Aoyama Gakuin and Tokyo University of Science would take it for granted that they would be ranked well ahead of Tokai. Isn't it refreshing to have university rankings that are not hidebound by snobbery and received wisdom and instead strike out on their own with new and original views of the the university scene? Certainly refreshing if you have a newly minted certificate from one of the newly elevated! Hooray!
The style of my "bekka", which was a one-year pre-entry intensive Japanese course and was not at degree level, was quite school-ish rather than university-ish. I mean by that that there was a lot of rote learning and not a lot of thinking or broadening of the horizons of the students. That was a reflection of the nature of the course as a pre-entry preparation for university study and I cannot judge the quality of the degree level education. The staff ratio on the Japanese Language Course for Foreign Students was pretty good, about 8 to 15 students in the classes and the teachers were all professional. About half of my teachers were really first rate at what they did.
While I am at it, I might as well mention that Tokai's massive advantage over any of the often more prestigious Tokyo institutions is the extreme cheapness of some of its accommodation. Many of the bekka students were paying something like 10,000 yen per month for admittedly very basic rooms. That is unimaginably cheap for these parts. There is a good deal of this kind of accommodation at the Hiratsuka campus at least. It is within fairly easy striking distance of Tokyo and is a nice enough environment itself.