26 August 2011

Reply from Taikibansei on "FACTOID #2: Are universities and colleges in Japan accredited?"

Regarding a previously published article on accreditation of Japanese HE institutions here at JPN HEO Blog, one Taikibansei wrote a reply that appeared elsewhere on the web.  I post it here and will then reply to these observations from Taikibansei. .


Taikibansei Says:

An interesting post there, Mr. Jannuzi. I have a question for you at the end, but first some corrections:

Actually, JIHEE evaluates only private universities, and JACA evaluates chiefly tandais and senmon gakkous. Moreover, while the other two agencies (especially NIAD-UE) may seem to concentrate on national/public universities, they also provide accreditation evaluations for private universities as well. E.g., Ritsumeikan, a private university, received its accreditation evaluation from JUAA in 2004 (i.e., the first year possible), with the results announced in early 2005.

“Still, until the outcomes of the first external review process become clear in the next several years and until all institutions can join the accreditation process, the national government is the single source of ‘legitimacy’ for universities and colleges.”

This doesn’t make sense at all. As alluded to above, private universities have been able to “join the accreditation process” from the beginning, and there was never any attempt to exclude anybody. JIHEE’s initial (2004-2006) seminars explaining the process were each attended by 300+ private universities, and it was made very clear then that they (JIHEE) were “ready” to start with the inspections immediately (however, see my comment in the next paragraph). Moreover, private and public universities have been being evaluated in relatively equal numbers each year. Heck, by the end of 2007 (i.e., before your blog entry to the contrary), all the major tertiary institutions in your prefecture (Fukui) had been accredited (Fukui Kenritsu in 2005, Jinai in 2006, Fukui National in 2007, and Fukui Kougyou in 2007). That’s two public, and two private, universities.

There are two main reasons for the comparatively low number of accreditation evaluations from 2004-2007. First, there just were not enough trained evaluators initially available to allow for an increased number of on-campus inspections. Second, and most importantly, Japan-style accreditation is an extremely grueling, 3-year process–the first year for accruing/organizing the data in the fashion required, the second to begin writing the 100-page houkokusho (and officially apply/pay for the accreditation evaluation), and the third for finishing/submitting the houkokusho and receiving the onsite inspection. Given that most private universities hadn’t begun this process before 2004, the absolute earliest (assuming sufficient evaluators were available) most could have received their onsite inspections was 2007. Still, by the end of this year (2010), nearly all of Japan’s universities/tandais will have undergone accreditation evaluations by one of the four accrediting agencies. Indeed, while the actually impact/benefit so far can be questioned, considering the circumstances (and formidable hurdles in place), one can argue that the accreditation PROCESS here has been moving along with admirable speed and grace.

“The government also sets enrollment quotas for all certified universities and colleges.”

No, private universities set their own enrollment “quotas”–indeed, as Monkasho now penalizes (by reducing funding) all universities unable to meet enrollment quotas, one strategy increasingly utilized by impacted private universities has been to reduce said intake quotas.

Finally, it needs to be reiterated that, while ostensibly based on American-style accreditation, university accreditation in Japan has only superficial similarities with the former. (Similarly, “Faculty Development” in Japan is also supposedly “based on the US-model,” but is actually a very different animal.) The quotes/references appearing in Mulvey’s 2010 article suggest that he is also aware of this, but he does not discuss it–probably due to TLT’s stringent limitations on word count.

And now for my question–this link you provide, it is to your own private blog, correct? A blog you call “Japan Higher Education Outlook,” right?
Taikibansei Says:
February 15th, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Hate to do this, but assuming you’re considering one day trying to publish this blog entry of yours, the following should be corrected as well:

“The term ‘external audit’ in the case of a private university would most likely mean an accounting audit to satisfy the board of directors or the tax office.”

JIHEE (specializing in private university accreditation evaluations) has had their evaluation criteria/standards up on their website since at least 2005. (This, actually, is in fact true of all four accrediting agencies.) I.e., there should have been no guesswork involved at all (especially in 2008), and yet the statement above is completely wrong.

Finally, two quick corrections of my own initial post. JACA apparently still only does tandais (I thought they’d added senmon gakkous from last year, but I was wrong). Also, I wrote, “Given that most private universities hadn’t begun this process before 2004,” but I probably should have also added that many public universities were no better prepared. Indeed, the initial unpreparedness of so many schools, combined with the aforementioned three years needed to prepare, is a major reason why the number of accreditation evaluations increased exponentially in 2007.

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