Jikei University School of Medicine in Japan came in at number five in the Times Higher Education 2017 table showing the universities with the best student-to-staff ratio. According to THE World University Rankings data, for each member of staff at the teaching hospital and university there are just 2.4 students.
We teamed up with the specialist medical university to send out a questionnaire to international students carrying out a placement at the institution, asking them how they felt the high staff-to-student ratio had benefited their studies. There were 36 responses in total from students from all over the world, including from the UK, Malaysia and New Zealand.
The first question the students were asked was how well they felt supported. The majority of the respondents said that staff had carried out language translations where necessary, answered any admin queries they had and assisted them with their studies. “All staff were helpful and willing to help.The Centre for International Affairs was very organised, and contacting them for any details was easy. They were responsive to questions and suggestions. They all showed an interest in our final presentations as well,” said one student.
Student experience: student-to-staff ratios
“I was given contact details for relevant staff members who would be on hand if I required assistance,” said another. “Furthermore, during tutorials staff members tried their best to either translate themselves or to make sure that someone else could translate to me so that I could fully benefit from the teaching.”
The students were then asked whether they thought that the student-to-staff ratio was sufficient. Some 33 of the respondents answered “yes”, while the rest were unsure or said that the question was not applicable to them. One student – who was studying anaesthetics – even said that “there were far more staff than students”, while another said that the balance “was better than the staff-to-student ratio at my own university”.
Some 24 of the students believed that having a higher staff-to-student ratio had a positive impact on their learning. “By having a higher staff-to-student ratio…each staff member can spend more time with an individual student during each session,” said one student. Another stated: “It provides a more inclusive learning environment in which it is easier to ask questions and to contribute during tutorials.”
Twenty of the respondents felt that they received better feedback on their work as a result of the relatively high numbers of staff. “My…experience at Jikei is something I shall remember for ever. Not only did I see some amazing surgeries and learn so much during my time there, the staff members of the international affairs department and the doctors of the anaesthesiology department were incredibly welcoming and kind.”
A recurring point made by the students was that the university made a conscious effort to connect international students through the weekly “international cafe”. “It was very useful to have the international cafe every Monday; the international students know that they are being paid attention from the university and they can make more friends during their stay in Japan,” said one student.
Read more: The best universities in Japan