SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English
Sim Woohyang ” SGRA Forum #61 Report : Globalization of higher education in Japan”
We had the 61st SGRA Forum titled “Globalization of higher education in Japan!?” was held on October 13, 2018.
In Japan today, the cultivation of human resources is promoted aggressively under the keywords “studying abroad” and “English education”. We started off by discussing the present situation of the globalization of human resources which was based on “studying abroad” and “English education”. We had a constructive discussion about the future, and this was a topic that people from different fields such as the university, government and private sector were all interested in. The venue was crowded with university teachers, Japanese university students, foreign students and people from companies.
The number of participants exceeded seventy people.
Professor Zhang Jian, Tokyo Denki University opened the event, which was followed by the opening remarks from Ms. Junko Imanishi, Executive Director of the Atsumi International Foundation. Firstly, Sim Woohyang, a research associate at Waseda University, raised issues based on the globalization of universities through sending and receiving students and the cultivation of global human resources. She pointed out that despite vigorous encouragement and financial support from the government, the period of studying abroad is limited and too short. She raised a question about the effectiveness of such short periods of studying abroad in the cultivation of global human resources and the effective and practical use of international exchange in campus life. Her question was based on the results of a survey conducted with students at Waseda University.
Next, Professor Aya Yoshida, Waseda University, gave a presentation about “Globalization in the field of Japanese higher education and its present situation and future directions”. She explained precisely about changes in the cultivation of global human resources from companies to societies, from societies to the nation, and then to universities. She discussed how, with such changes, the image of global human resources has also changed. After this, she explained how long term studying abroad is becoming very sluggish and short term studying abroad (or overseas training), on the contrary, is increasing. What she liked to point out is that the present employment system of Japanese companies is inconsistent with the present Japanese aim of “co-existence with foreign people” and “globalization of Japanese companies”.
In neighboring country Korea, on the other hand, studying abroad is very active.
We invited Professor Sin Jung-Cheol, Seoul National University, and requested him to speak about “the present situation of Korean university students and an analysis of its causes,” which was the title of his presentation. He pointed out that the number of Korean university students studying abroad has been increasing since the nineties and this rate has remained unchanged. He explained the reasons for the increasing number of Korean students who went abroad but also pointed out that the purposes of studying abroad from Korea are diversifying every year.
Korea is enjoying an excessive boom in studying abroad while Japan, on the contrary, is worried about the decrease in studying abroad. He ended his lecture by proposing how the cultivation of global human resources, which does not always rely only on studying abroad, but rather is based on present social and economic situation, ought to be.
After these presentations and the questions that followed them, we had a panel discussion facilitated by Professor Sim Choon Kiat, Associate Professor of Showa Women’s University. Anecdotal reports from several Japanese universities were presented, followed by a discussion with participants. First, Professor Izumi Sekizawa, Associate Professor of Higashi Nippon International University, gave a presentation about a program for studying abroad at a small-scale local university. Professor. Sekizawa introduced a case in which the short term program led to actual studying abroad but raised a problem for the purpose of promoting studying abroad in that for students at a local university, high costs make it difficult for students to participate.
Next, Murat Cakir, Assistant Professor Kansai Gaidai University, introduced the curriculum at Kansai Gaidai University for developing global human resources and reported on its practice and outcome. He also discussed another program which, utilizing interactions between foreign students in an English language class, brought up global human resources without students having to go abroad. He brought up the need to look into providing better career guidance for students, an issue that came up in a survey of university students.
Lastly, Dr. Kim Bumsu, Specially Appointed Professor of Tokyo Gakugei University, discussed the educational consortium of his private-sector institution and their attempt to bring about international educational cooperation through the program of short-term studying abroad to Korea. He also introduced international joint undertakings across borders and suggested some systems or methods for developing global human resources hereafter.
During the free discussion, we had an active exchange of opinions between participants and speakers. One Japanese student shared her opinions about studying abroad based on her own experiences and asked some questions about the situation in Korea. A woman working for a personnel management company raised a question about the company’s effort and attitude. Participants who have studied abroad shared their difficulties and possible solutions through exchanging thoughts with Japanese students.
We had to extend the forum because there were so many questions and opinions. The heated discussion raised our awareness of these issues, and made us think about the definition of global human resources, the appropriate state of modern societies in which globalization is progressing, and the way of life in such societies.
(Sim Woohyang / 2017 Raccoon, Doctoral Course in Educational Societies, Waseda University)
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sonja Dale