15 March 2010

A two-year retrospective on 'Japan Higher Education Outlook'

This is more or less a re-post from last month in hopes of it being found by a few more people who come in the front door and very quickly leave by the same door. So it is being re-posted to put it at the top and front of the blog for a while.
Japan Higher Education Outlook  has been in existence for over two years now. So it might be a good time to look back on some of the original content.

Here is a list of key feature articles that appeared here. These are articles that are for the most part exclusive of the ones that appeared under the 'TEFL Forum' title series.

But first, here are a few comments on some of the news and trends analyzed in the past two years of articles:

-Instead of getting more universities into the world's top 30, Japan's one top 20 university, Tokyo U., dropped out of the top 20.

-The new research university being founded in Okinawa has faltered, hitting budget limitations due to the ongoing fiscal crisis of the national government.

-The often-predicted demographic disaster awaiting Japan's large HE sector still awaits--offset by the fact that more and more young women are continuing onto four-year programs and graduate school.

-Meanwhile, the lines drawn across terms like 'university', 'college' and 'special training school/college' are being blurred: Two-year colleges have got into vocational programs and four-year programs in order to stay in business. It also seems that 'special training colleges' will hook up with universities and colleges because they need students, but their administrations have something the universities need as well: management skills in running vocationally relevant programs that lead to graduates getting certifications, qualifications, careers.

-And while the continuance rate from senior high to universities and colleges hasn't hit 60%, it is rising and for many students there are more and more ways to get into the programs of their choice (most students choose 2 or 3 institutions to apply for).

-And the top-rated universities like Toudai have more applicants than ever because many are hopeful that the demographic decline favors their chances to win the placement lottery. .    

Links and introductory excerpts have been dug out from the archives for your convenience.

Original feature articles at JHEO:

1. http://japanheo.blogspot.com/2009/12/profile-of-japans-top-university-u-of.html

16 December 2009

Profile of Japan's top university--U. of Tokyo (Toudai)

Recently Toudai dropped out of the THES-QS top 20 ranking of universities worldwide. I thought this would be a good time to run an alternative version of an earlier piece on the University of Tokyo.


Is University of Tokyo Japan's only world-class university? 
Charles Jannuzi, University of Fukui, Japan

It is unique and elite

When the university system of Japan is compared internationally, one institution is most often cited as Japan's best example of a 'world-class' university. This is, of course, the University of Tokyo (Toukyou Daigaku' or 'Toudai' for short). Toudai is perhaps most famous for graduating and networking elite bureaucrats and politicians, including prime ministers; however, the supposed lock on leadership in top government has waned over the past two decades. For example, this century's most popular prime minister of Japan, Junichiro Koizumi, and many of his advisors were graduates of the private elite Keio University.

2. http://japanheo.blogspot.com/2009/04/end-of-japans-national-development-and.html

10 April 2009

The End of Japan's National Development State for Higher Education
Charles Jannuzi, University of Fukui, Japan


Japan's vast higher education system has around 5,000 institutions, with the count still growing. This includes a tertiary level of about 1,300 government-certified, degree-awarding colleges and universities. Seven hundred forty-five of these are designated as 'daigaku'--a term which refers to any institution that has received government sanction to award four-year degrees equivalent to a baccalaureate. These four-year universities along with junior and technical colleges enroll close to three million undergraduate students, including about 120,000 foreign nationals, the vast majority of whom are from China.

3. http://japanheo.blogspot.com/2008/10/demographic-disaster-for-higher-ed-in.html

27 October 2008

Demographic Disaster for Higher Ed in Japan? Parts II-III
by Charles Jannuzi, University of Fukui


In early September 2006, I gave a presentation at a conference in Langkawi, Malaysia. The conference, which focused mostly on educational management issues in higher education, was hosted by the South East Asian Association for Institutional Research (SEAAIR) and the Open University of Malaysia. My talk was titled, "Japan's Tertiary Education System: Developments in the Koizumi Era of Reform".

In the resulting paper (which was published in the proceedings of the conference), I attempted to sum up twenty years of university reform with the following:

Those two prior decades of changes in tertiary education leading
up to the creation of the NUCs [Japan's 87 national universities
were re-chartered as 'national university corporations' in 2003-4]
comprised many profound developments....:

-the establishment of a handful of new research universities and
institutes, decision-making at which flows from a central

-the expansion of graduate program and their enrollments,
including American-style professional schools of business,
law, and accounting;

-growth in doctoral and post-doctoral programs....

-a steady increase in the number of international students
hosted, to over 120,000 annually, about 25% enrolled in
graduate schools;

-more public funding of the entire tertiary sector...with a
target of 1% of GDP;

-increased funding for research (including more basic
research) to compensate for its decline in private industry...
with a target of 7-8% of annual national budgets, and a
national goal approaching 3% of GDP for ALL scientific R&D
(with national government spending accounting for 1% of GDP);

-legislative and regulatory changes that allowed the national
universities to tie up with other entities to pursue research and
expand course offerings....

-parallel changes that allowed national university academics
to serve on the boards of NPOs and for-profit corporations;

-internal and external systems of evaluation, independent of
national government certification....

4. http://japanheo.blogspot.com/2008/04/japans-tertiary-education-system.html

18 April 2008

Japan's Tertiary Education System: Developments in the Koizumi Era of Reform
Charles Jannuzi, University of Fukui, Japan

With this first JPN HEO blog post of April 2008, I am using this forum to publish an article that was delivered as a paper at the SEAAIR conference in Langkawi, Malaysia, in September 2006. It will serve as something of a retrospective on happenings in higher education during the Koizumi years of 2000-6 and the preceding years that set up the reforms of what now could be called a political era for Japan.

News posts on the demographic crisis and reasons for the failure of English education will follow in the remaining days of April.

Japan's Tertiary Education System: Developments in the Koizumi Era of Reform
by Charles Jannuzi


This paper will survey the major developments and changes that have taken place during the past decade in Japan's tertiary education system and put them into international (comparative) and historical perspectives. It also will attempt to assess critically the impact of major reforms on the national and public universities (and the response of the more numerous private universities to these reforms as well). For example, as of 1 April 2004, Japan's 87 national universities were 'denationalized' and incorporated into 'autonomous institutions'(or 'juridical persons') giving them, at least in theory, wider discretionary powers over personnel management, teaching and research assignments, program and curriculum development. The new status was supposed to result in more local autonomy within each institution over the allocation of money for their mandated missions in teaching, conveying public services to their regions, and conducting basic and applied research in science and technology. Have such top-down reforms proven effective, and have their effects matched the government's stated intentions? It is the author's contention that, not only are the reforms a classic case of reform over-reach, but that Japan's overbuilt university system will face demographic, financial and socio-cultural crises that the current Koizumi era of reform, now coming to its close, has utterly failed to address.

5. http://japanheo.blogspot.com/2008/03/teaching-as-foreign-national-at.html

10 March 2008

Teaching as a Foreign National at Japanese Universities: Shifting Terms of Institutional Status, Employment, Work Conditions and Related Concerns 
Charles Jannuzi, University of Fukui, Japan


The Japanese tertiary system consists of some 1250 national, public, and private four- and two-year institutions. At these degree-awarding universities and colleges, the terms 'foreign lecturer' or 'foreign instructor' refer to any non-Japanese personnel teaching below the status of professor. Most typically though the terms refer to full-time foreign language teachers who are 'native speakers' of the language they teach.

The vast majority of these foreign nationals teach English as a foreign language (EFL), but the number teaching other important languages, especially Asian ones, such as Mandarin Chinese, has also risen significantly during the past two decades. The non-Japanese teaching EFL in Japan are often assigned general English classes as part or all of their teaching duties. General English refers to service course English required as part of general education requirements of tertiary education.

6. http://japanheo.blogspot.com/2008/03/from-university-research-centers-to.html

02 March 2008

From university research centers to international research hubs?
Charles Jannuzi, University of Fukui, Japan

In the post-bubble Japan of the 1990s, the private sector's ability to finance scientific research and development went into stagnation and then decline. So from 1995 on the government has pursued an expanded role in the management and funding of scientific R&D at annual levels that equal or exceed 1% of GDP. In great part this has been through the dominant role of its super-ministry, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and its five-year 'Science and Technology Basic Plans'.

In order to increase public subsidy of scientific research-- while at the same time forcing research universities and research institutes to compete for funds--MEXT established a 'Centers of Excellence' program. However, this turned out to be a fairly diffuse program, paying for the construction of dozens of new research facilities all over the country at the former national universities and a handful of elite private ones. While this did a lot to help refurbish the appearance of the visibly deteriorated national universities, its actual boost to important scientific results is questionable.

7. http://japanheo.blogspot.com/2008/02/demographic-disaster-for-higher-ed-in.html

10 February 2008

Demographic Disaster for Higher Education in Japan? Part I
by Charles Jannuzi


This will be a three-part series for the Japan HEO Blog. This first installment will be a short introduction of the series and then follow with an analysis of Anglophone news coverage of Japan. This is, after all, an English-language blog on Japan.

Part two will consist of analysis of recent articles which appeared in the FT, New York Times, Guardian and Kyodo News Service which have covered the 'demographic disaster' that is supposed to be looming over higher education in Japan. Going straight to the strong points of the argument for a disaster scenario for HE in Japan, I will try to point out some of the flaws and gaps in the analysis.

The third and final part, which will most likely appear late in March 2008 (when the single correspondent of the Japan HEO Blog doesn't have to teach classes), I will put forth a different analysis in an attempt to answer the puzzling question, "Why, if high school graduate and university-eligible populations are in steady and unrecoverable decline, is Japan building still yet more universities?" Does someone in the HE sector here know something that everyone else doesn't? Or are they delusional?

8. http://japanheo.blogspot.com/2008/02/extended-look-at-academic-freedom-in-he.html

03 February 2008

Academic freedom in Japan's higher education--a more in-depth look
by Charles Jannuzi


Many attempts at analyzing the nature of government in post-war Japan tend to emphasize continuity with 'old' Japan and its conservative nationalism. However, such analysis does not insightfully refer to tendencies that are ancient or even old by historical standards. Instead, any connection with past rule has to be made with early modern Japan, from the start of the Meiji era (1868) to the start of the second world war.

Sweeping political, social and cultural changes in the last half of the 19th century opened up Japan to outside ideas, knowledge and technology. The Meiji Restoration of 1868 was actually a political revolution which swept away most elements of the old shogunate government and its prestige culture. New factions of elites capable of leadership and rule emerged during a time of great social unrest and change.

9. http://japanheo.blogspot.com/2008/02/pork-barrel-boondoggle-in-ryukyu.html

03 February 2008

The Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology: Pork barrel boondoggle in the Ryukyu Islands?
by Charles Jannuzi


In December 2006, the Japanese government (at the ministry level) decided to put the construction and certification of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) on a privileged fast track. The OIST was conceived in the 1990s and put forward as an official proposal in June 2002 to help mark the 30th anniversary of the reversion of Okinawa from US control to become the 48th prefecture of Japan. Its proponents within the national government and in Okinawa had hoped that the proposed institute would open for teaching and research by September 2006--or earlier. That target has long been been missed, and efforts to speed up the process have been clouded by serious oversight issues involving the specification of research program, taught curriculum, and codes and regulations. Construction of the campus, currently in progress, could also cause considerable environmental destruction because of its location in what is now a communal forest near the coast.

10. http://japanheo.blogspot.com/2008/02/japan-aims-for-world-class-universities.html

03 February 2008

Japan aims for 'world class' universities
by Charles Jannuzi


The government of Japan is pushing for a consolidation and revitalization of the university system, formulating specific targets. Of the hundreds of universities here, 30 are supposed to emerge competitively as truly 'world-class' institutions. From amongst this group of 30, a very select group of five are supposed to attain a top 30 global ranking. And at the top of this super group of five, one of these must make it into the global top 10.

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