The Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) recently unveiled its new Project for Establishing Core Universities for Internationalization, otherwise known as “Global 30”. As outlined by the plan, thirteen core universities in Japan will “play a major role in dramatically boosting the number of international students educated in Japan as well as Japanese students studying abroad.” The thirteen universities are Tohoku University, University of Tsukuba, The University of Tokyo, Nagoya University, Kyoto University, Osaka University, Kyushu University, Keio University, Sophia University, Meiji University, Waseda University, Doshisha University, and Ritsumeikan University. Furthermore, eight cities outside of Japan have been selected to boost study abroad numbers for Japanese students. These cities are Tunis, Cairo, Bonn, Moscow, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Tashkent, and Hanoi.
Yomiuri Shimbun reports that “[u]nder the planned new framework, the ministry aims to standardize rules to certify foreign universities’ credits when students return to Japanese universities, as well as the method for converting foreign universities’ credits into those acceptable by Japanese universities necessary for graduation.” Indeed, this seems to be the main feature of the new program. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that “[a]ccording to the Institute of International Education, 34,000 Japanese students went to American universities in 2007, down from 47,000 in 1997”. The implication here is that either the numbers have declined due to the previously rigid credit structure among Japanese universities, or that making them more flexible will boost international enrollment and study abroad numbers. These two implications, though, are not mutually exclusive.
The Chronicle also reports that most of this new exchange will happen between China and South Korea, but that an increase in the number of Japanese students studying in the United States is also expected. While no U.S. cities made the list of eight above, many institutional ties between the two countries remain strong.
The A.C.E. Language Institute at SPU, for instance, is currently hosting 10 students from Mie University and 25 from Tokyo Kasei University. Just last fall, the Language Institute at MSU hosted a group of MEXT trainees. A.C.E. has long been a partner of the Japanese Ministry and a number of universities in Japan. We therefore applaud MEXT’s Global 30, wish them luck in implementing the plan, and look forward to helping them achieve their goals.