"International Education: Why Globally Minded Japanese Students Don't Choose Japanese Universities"のご報告
Report on Session G
“International Education: Why Globally Minded Japanese Students Don't Choose Japanese Universities”
Center for Global Education & Exchange, Toyo University
Undergraduate student at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sydney
Undergraduate student in the Department of Political Science and International Studies, Yonsei University
A SIIEJ 2021 Session, “International Education: Why Globally Minded Japanese Students Don't Choose Japanese Universities,” was successfully held on August 27th, 2021. The session consisted of two parts. The first half of the session was led by Rab Paterson of the Center for Global Education & Exchange in Toyo University to introduce the present situation of Japanese higher education institutions and the core issues of losing high-achieving students. The session was then followed by testimonials from two students, Mayuko Kubo and Tohi Kim, who pursued university studies in Australia and Korea, respectively. By explaining how Japanese universities are losing top-level students to overseas institutions and what new generations demand for their academic paths, the session gave an excellent round-up of what those universities need to catch up on to be more attractive internationally.
Reflecting on his multinational, multidisciplinary educational background, Rab discussed three aspects of why Japanese universities are considered less attractive globally: learning experiences, classroom arrangements, and skillset development. First, Rab pointed out the limited and antiquated educational experiences Japanese universities are offering. He argued that compared with his own educational experience, conventional Japanese higher education tend to be narrow-focused and offer limited opportunities for transdisciplinary studies. Japan’s lagging educational technology performance arguably originates from the digital incompetency of teaching staff and administrators. Considering how well-adapted new generations are to various online sources of information, Japanese universities are lagging behind the global trend of maintaining the online presence. Next, Rab explained the outdated classroom arrangements and equipment in Japanese universities. Overseas institutions aggressively adopt new classroom layouts and digital equipment to create a more interactive and dynamic learning environment. However, many Japanese universities still cling to the traditional lecture format, which Rab referred to as the “graveyard” model, forcing students to passively receive knowledge and information. Lastly, Rab demonstrated the slow skillset development of Japanese universities. Skills required in the modern job markets are communicative in nature. The majority of Japanese students with limited foreign language proficiency miss out on their opportunities of high-quality learning interaction. Thus, Japanese higher education institutions are put in a difficult position in the global market, heavily relying on their captive domestic audience.
Subsequently, Mayuko Kubo shared that she had chosen to be an undergraduate student at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia. She stated that the university has educational and research capacity to foster internationally competent individuals, and she also values learning experiences outside the classroom. Her final-year-hands-on projects at the University of Sydney also provided her with real industry experience in actual companies. She also noted that the diverse backgrounds of the faculty and students have enriched her perspective, and that international students in the university also take advantage of various opportunities as domestic students do.
Then, Tohi Kim shared her experience as an undergraduate student in the Department of Political Science and International Studies at Yonsei University, South Korea. Born and brought up in Japan as a Korean, her educational experience in Japan and participation in an exchange program in the United States made her emotionally detached from the culture. She experienced continued miscommunication based on stereotypes about her identity at schools, which drove her to seek a more constructive and interactive learning environment. Attending the university in Korea, she was able to interact vigorously with international students and broaden her perspective through the institution’s wide range of international programs. She also believed that the institution’s multimedia channels, social media marketing, and international support attracted more prospective students internationally. She also shared that a well-designed career-building platform for mentoring and tutoring opportunities and a flexible class schedule also aided her in pursuing a part-time internship in an international NGO.
The presenters also shared some findings from their team’s ongoing qualitative research project, involving 15 university students who had graduated from Japanese high schools with sufficient foreign language proficiency. The results revealed a notable difference in purposes of pursuing the undergraduate studies and responses to COVID-19 in terms of leveraging the quality education under restrictions. Also, the presenters discussed how the Japanese government approach to promoting internationalization in higher education is not adequately structured and has room for improvement in terms of outbound programs, overall language education, financial assistance, and employability.
Y. N. (Regional Development Studies, Toyo University)