12 June 2010

Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology finds home with UTM

The much-delayed, slightly re-named 'Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology' (M-JIIT) seems to be taking steps forward in 2010 towards full-blown establishment. The reasons are a top university in Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), will host and oversee the institute, and the government of Malaysia is stepping up with a RM 300 million grant to fund it. UTM has been a leader in HE in Malaysia at international cooperation with Japanese universities, so it was deemed as the most suitable institution to host the M-JIIT.

For more details and background information see the links and texts below:   


And in order to upgrade technical programmes in line with industry requirements, the Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology will be established as an independent institute under Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.


Japanese tech institute for Johor     
Tuesday, 08 June 2010
The first Japanese-based technological institute will be set up in the state with over 10 post-graduate courses being lined up. The Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology is expected to be placed at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and under purview of the university, said Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Khaled Nordin. The setting up of the institute is the result of an agreement between our Government and the Japanese Government,” he said, adding that the matter was discussed during the visit by the Prime Minister to Japan two weeks ago. Khaled said the courses would allow students to learn about Japanese technology, especially those related to the field of engineering. We have obtained the support of several Japanese companies which will provide the institute with equipment. Besides, we are in the process of discussing student placement and attachment programmes for both countries,” he said at a press conference after attending a community development workshop in Pasir Gudang. Source: The Star, May 9th, 2010


UTM honoured with Japanese Commendation Award      
Friday, 04 December 2009

UTM’s outstanding contributions in promoting mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and Malaysia gained recognition when it was awarded “The Japanese Foreign Minister's Commendation Award” at a dinner ceremony at the residence of the Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia, His Excellency, Masahiko Horie on November 25th, 2009. The UTM Vice Chancellor Prof. Dato’ Zaini Ujang in his acceptance speech stressed that as part of its internationalization initiatives, UTM has the most number and high-impact initiatives ranging from research collaboration and publications, staff and student exchanges, joint academic programmes and seminars with universities from Japan compared to other universities around the world. The good rapport between UTM and Japanese universities has been strengthened further to greater heights.

Other initiatives include research collaborations with Tokyo University and Kyoto University, and a joint MBA programme with Meiji University. UTM has also signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with more than seven Japanese universities since 1991. Among these are Meiji University, Toyama University, Tokushima University, Shibaura Institute of Technology, Tokai University, Nagaoka Institute of Technology, and Nagoya Institute of Technology. In addition, several collaborative agreements with other universities are in the pipeline such as with Kyushu University and Hiroshima University.

Zaini further highlighted that the Japanese government has also long supported Malaysian academics in a number of ways. The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science or JSPS was one of the earliest Japanese organisations that has supported joint academic research with Malaysian universities and many Malaysian academics have benefited from such programmes. “The Japan Foundation and Japan Science and Technology (JST) are examples of organisations that have supported the mobility of experts between the two countries for many years already. In addition there have been a number of Japanese companies that have also supported our universities in providing scholarships and fellowships for higher degrees and joint research such as Hitachi and Panasonic. “UTM is also proud because due to the strong collaboration with Meiji University, the university had awarded Honorary Doctorates to two of our Prime Ministers when they were still in office, Y. A. B. Tun Dr. Mahathir, and Y. A. B. Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi,” he said.

In addition, UTM is the only university in Malaysia that has a Japanese University setting up its satellite office at the university. In December 2006 Meiji University launched its satellite office at the UTM International Campus in Kuala Lumpur. Resulting from this, several other universities have expressed interest to set up their satellite offices in UTM including Shibaura Institute of Technology, Tokyo University and also Hiroshima University. UTM has also supported the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan in the establishment of the Malaysia-Japan University Center (MJUC). Due to UTM’s collaboration with many Japanese universities, the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) of Malaysia had identified UTM as the most appropriate university to set up the Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology or MJIIT.

A cabinet paper is now underway for the approval of the G-to-G project to set up a Malaysia-Japan Institute in UTM with a RM300 million grant. If this is approved by the Malaysian cabinet, there will soon be more Japanese professors in UTM and several joint programmes will be realized for the benefit of our students and Malaysians in general. UTM is also proud to be the host for the PPKTJ (Preparatory Programme for Japanese Technical Collaboration) which has been conducted in UTM for more than fifteen (15) years. Many students have graduated from Japanese universities and colleges under this programme.
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Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology inaugurated

The Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST) was inaugurated 3 June 2010, with Japan's ambassador to Egypt in attendance along with JICA officials, who are in charge of much of Japan's overseas aid efforts for development. E-JUST operates at a temporary campus and had its first intake of 30 post-graduate students in February 2010. Previously announced plans were for it have a full intake of undergraduate and post-graduate students by the autumn 2011, but that seems doubtful unless a major Japanese institution steps forward to be the dominant sponsor and succeeds at working across the different cultures and higher education systems. It should be pointed out that JICA does not have a proven 'track record' at establishing viable higher education institutions. Moreover, with Japan's new national government tasked with cutting spending, including to all levels of domestic education, this sort of expansion of involvement overseas may prove harder to fund than was anticipated in 2004, when E-JUST was conceived.

For the complete official press release and background information see the links and texts below: 


June 4, 2010
With Japanese Help, a New Dawn for Higher Education in Egypt

A new science and technology university which will address many of Egypt's educational and industrial dilemmas and hopefully establish itself as one of the world’s leading universities within a decade was officially inaugurated Thursday (June 3).

The opening, attended by Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, Japanese Ambassador Kaoru Ishikawa and JICA President Sadako Ogata, is the culmination of six years of collaboration between Japan and Egypt which initially began in 2004.

The officially named Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST) will offer undergraduate and graduate courses in business, culture and engineering, with JICA paying particular attention to the latter activities.

Initially, it will help tackle some of Egypt’s chronic domestic problems, but eventually hopes to develop into a regional center of excellence in science and technology and within a decade, according to officials associated with the project, become one of the world’s top 500 universities.

PhotoJICA President Mrs. Ogata tours the university facilities.

Prime Minister Nazif touched on the same subject during his speech. 'Innovation' is the key word, he told guests and the new university will provide the link between pure research and innovative and practical economic use.

The university will become an 'island of science and technology' not only in Egypt but within 10 years in the wider region. He emphasized in particular that the center could help Africa to the south develop a new generation of leaders in the field.

Throughout its history as one of the world’s most ancient civilizations Egypt has been a regional and international center of learning. But with a burgeoning population of more than 70 million people it faces daunting challenges.

Its universities are overflowing. Cairo University alone has 260,000 students and a pupil-professor ratio of 26-1 compared with a 10-1 norm at top Japanese universities.

There is a major brain drain of graduating students seeking either higher paying jobs overseas or better ongoing higher education.

There are few links between universities and domestic industries struggling to compete in an increasingly competitive globalized market and provide jobs for school leavers.

Impressed with Japan’s post World War II record, educational excellence and economic reconstruction, particularly in hi-tech fields, Egypt asked for Japanese assistance to develop a similar establishment for higher education based on Japan's experience.

Helping to establish the university JICA, in one innovative move, brought together government ministries, academics and industrial leaders and 12 Japanese universities to explore each other's needs and develop relevant programs.

Even before the June 3 official opening, graduate courses in three of seven engineering facilities began in February on a temporary campus in the newly established city of New Borg El-Arab near the Mediterranean City of Alexandria.

Undergraduate courses in areas such as business and culture will be added later.

In a five year project running through 2013, the Japanese development agency will provide training for instructors and operational staff in the engineering and education sectors, develop further educational programs and promote university-industry cooperation. Another phase is planned after that.

Egyptian and Japanese officials describe the venture as a win-win situation for both sides.

The university will enhance science and technology education, emphasizing moral and business ethics, vital for any developing country to realize its full economic potential.

It will establish a base-line for higher education excellence, developing continuing education courses, providing internationally recognized degrees and aiming for a 90% job rate among graduates within one year – an ambitious target in a region plagued by chronic unemployment.

The university will assimilate the Japanese model for both development and nation building and promote the transfer of technology know-how to Egypt’s industrial sector.

The university will also act as a showcase for Japanese culture, values, language and technology in Egypt, the Arab states and Africa. It will serve as a platform for ‘science and technology diplomacy’ and give Japan a greater understanding of regional market needs and dynamics allowing Japanese companies to outsource business operations and activities to the region.

JICA has been involved in education projects in developing countries since its inception. For many years these programs focused on general primary education and vocational training.

But that has begun to change. Recognizing the particular importance of science and mathematics in promoting national economic growth, JICA is currently involved with more than 30 African nations in promoting those two specific subjects.

Higher education, particularly in such fields as information technology, has become increasingly key. JICA has worked closely with Rwanda in that field as that central African country continues to rebuild in the aftermath of the 1990s genocide.

On a wider level, JICA has provided support to universities in countries ranging from Eastern Europe to Asia and Africa. It has supported the King Mongkut Institute of Technology in Thailand and the so-called AUN/SEED Net project which linked a series of engineering universities throughout the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

And as Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, general secretary of ASEAN has said: “Creativity is a secret for a country’s economic growth”.


The idea of having a joint university between Egypt and Japan was first introduced in 2003 as one of the projects conductive to the economic and social development of Egypt, which is essential for peace and stability in the region. After a prolonged period of study and analysis, the two countries formally decided in August 2008 to undergo this project.

E-JUST is a unique project that reflects the strength of the relations between Egypt and Japan. E-JUST will be realized on a partnership basis between the governments of Egypt and Japan. The implementation of this pioneer project started in August 2008. The university has received its first student batch in February 2010, receiving 30 graduate students in 3 programs; Electronics and Communications Engineering, Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering, and Energy Resources and Environmental Engineering. The remaining programs will open respectively, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, and Computer Science and Engineering in September 2010, Materials Science and Engineering, and Chemicals and Petrochemicals Engineering in February 2011.



E-JUST is a joint Egyptian and Japanese university that is based on close 'partnership' between the two governments. The university is targetting 'world class' research and teaching quality with regional and global reach.

The implementation of this pioneer project has started in August 2008. It has been decided to start a postgraduate program in September 2009 in a temporary location in Mubarak City for Science and Technology Applications (MuCSAT) and for the fully fledged operation of both the undergraduate and postgraduate programs to start in September 2011.

Declaration Signing

His Excellency the prime minister Dr Ahmed Nazif has kindly witnessed signing the 'Bilateral Agreement' of E-JUST. The declaration is signed by His Excellency the minister of Higher Education and Research Dr Hany Hilal, Her Excellency the minister of International Cooperation Mrs. Fayza Aboulnaga, and his Excellency ambassador of Japan Mr. Kaoru Ishikawa.

The signing ceremony was held on March the 26th, 2009, at the Smart Village, Cairo. The event is also announced at the MOFA website.

What is the best class size for EFL classes at universities in Japan?

 What is the best class size for EFL classes at universities in Japan?

The intuitive answer is most likely, the smaller the better. However, a more nuanced answer might have to consider issues that are not normally considered in such a discussion. For example, one issue for EFL that can be usefully related to class size is placement, provided that such placement is based on valid assessment of the students abilities, experiences with various task types, and motivation (which links to needs). This is especially important at the upper beginning to upper intermediate range of levels because at these levels students tend to become quite heterogeneous in their ability to learn in class, work together, and participate cooperatively in activities. Even their language abilities, although labeled under one term, such as 'high beginner', can be quite different and strengths and weakenesses can seem idiosyncratic.

In my experience, it always seems that having placement is better than having no placement (the latter is often the case in EFL in Japan at universities). Especially if you are asked to teach a large EFL class. With valid and reliable placement, expansion of class size is possible because you can make predictions about how the students will behave as learners in the classes you are planning to run.

However, placement requires assessing all skills, plus factoring in needs, wants, motivation, etc., if at all possible. That is to say, groups of upper beginners through intermediate levels seem to individualize in many ways, such that it does help to make classes more manageable for communicative methods and materials if you can keep it to 15 or below but above 5 (and in the case of odd numbers, as a teacher I often become a pair partner, but I also use groups of three for a lot of discussion activities).

Two, it seems that most people in education will cite the need for smaller class size, while decision-makers typically push class sizes up. That has always been the case for me both as a student and as a teacher. In the case of EFL in Japan, with the dominant pattern being teacher-led, teacher-dominated, heavy use of Japanese, etc., large classes are manageable within that pattern.

The most common cause of negative critiques of a Japanese teacher of English would be 'the students didn't understand the material' and/or 'the students didn't do well on the department's exam (in the case of a senior high school, for example). Different expectations are projected onto 'English native speakers' (NS was fresh, energetic, made me want to learn English, gave me insights about his/her culture, etc.).

The profession in Japan is dominated by Japanese teachers of English, so programs, departments, institutions evolve their internal culture towards the dominant group.

Still, to sum up the discussion so far: most teachers want smaller classes. My basic rule at university EFL in Japan: once you give me more than 15 students, it doesn't much matter if it is 20, 25, 30, 35, 40--up to 60. I'm basically going to be demonstrating and running the same activities. The larger classes do take more energy and tend towards more off-activity behaviour, but after 20 years of looking at the same, I would be dead by now if I let that worry me too much.

This also brings to mind the ongoing debate about class size relative to academic performance in the Anglophone global media. You often hear it discussed that certain E. Asian countries (e.g., Japan, S. Korea, Taiwan) have large class sizes compared to the 'west' and yet continue to outperform on achievement tests (that have been standardized enough to allow for international comparisons).

However, it's a constant here in Japan when the larger society debates the education system: teachers want smaller class sizes because of the management and teacher-student relation issues (overcrowded, understaffed schools have more bullying problems). And most people who support educational reform consider classes that are too large as undesirable (with a class size of 30 often being the 'magic' number). Moreover, Japan has been overall been moving down in international 'league tables' of academic performance. Even as class sizes have become smaller--because of official changes to make classes smaller, but also demographic decline). More often than anything to do with class size, less rigorous curriculum and teaching methods are usually criticized as the cause.

Another aspect of the issue, though, is how is teaching and learning a  second/foreign/additional language is the same as or different from the regular 'content' of the curriculum.EFL in Japan is largely handled as simply another curriculum subject that is on high stakes tests. In western academia, where most of the meta- and pseudo-theories about LT, LL, SLA etc. are created and disseminated, however, the issues under discussion have more to do with how second language learning is different from native language acquisition. Also largely ignored in the schools of theory and experimental research are issues such as the relationships (1) between general learning and language acquisition and (2) literacy and overall language development (including second languages).

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