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Home > Campus Now > Message to the second century : Autumn Issue (Nov. 2013)

Campus Now

Autumn Issue (Nov. 2013)

Message to the second century

Utilizing the strengths of university to approach healthcare for the elderly through a diverse partnership

Broadly transmitting the uniqueness of Waseda
Cultivating leaders required for the times

Hiroshi Kobayashi
Director, Recruit Research Institute of Higher Education
Senior Editor of Recruit College Management

Hiroshi Kobayashi is Director of the Recruit Research Institute of Higher Education, a organization which conducts surveys for institutions of higher education throughout Japan, provides information to high school students to help with selecting a university, and makes recommendations to institutions of higher education regarding management strategy and student recruitment. Mr. Kobayashi discussed his memories of student life at university, the current state of Waseda University, and his expectations for our school.

Entering Waseda due to the appeal of the academic environment

――What kind of student life did you spend at Waseda University?

My dream was to enter the School of Law and become a lawyer. Therefore, I chose Waseda, a university which is filled with the energy of diverse students from throughout Japan and offers the opportunity for in-depth study. Through an education at Waseda, I aimed to become a first-class lawyer. However, upon entering university, classes were often cancelled due to student protests regarding tuition fees. I lost interest in the bar examination and put all of my energy into soccer. My friends and I started a soccer club with the help of Hisashi Kato, a member of the Japanese national soccer team and Assistant Professor at Waseda University. We received thorough training from Kato while we helped with events such as soccer schools. Although I received a job offer from a major metropolitan bank, I spent a lot of time worrying about my career path. Eventually, I chose Recruit because I felt that working at a venture corporation would allow me to change society. I was able to make this decision because of what I learned at Waseda.

An age in which universities guarantee the quality of students

――After entering Recruit, you were active mainly in the field of education. Currently, as Senior Editor of “College Management,” you continue to survey Japanese institutions of higher education. How do you view the current situation of Japanese universities?

When viewing the environment which surrounds Japanese institutions of higher education, it is important to note that the Japanese population began to decline from around 2005. As a result, corporations are being forced to globalize in order to secure a sufficient workforce. Such globalization has also been established as a national policy. Therefore, language ability and understanding for diversity are now required for middle management, as well as top executives. In the future, there is a need for professionals who can lead people that possess diverse values, who can find solutions by thinking independently, and who constantly embrace new challenges.

In 1990, 25% of Japanese high school students entered university. Today, that figure has increased to 50%. In addition to increasing the level of those people, universities must cultivate future leaders. In order to increase the level of middle management, universities must establish a curriculum which can transform passive students into autonomous professionals in a 4-year period. Of course, all universities have recognized this need. However, the PDCA cycle for a new curriculum requires at least 4 years; specifically, until the graduation of the first students studying under that curriculum. Accordingly, universities are often criticized for being slow to implement reforms when compared to corporations. Nevertheless, it is possible to increase the speed of decision-making process until implementation of a new plan. In view of such needs, it is said that university governance will shift from direction by faculty committees to management by the executive board.

When looking overseas, there is a gradual spread of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) at universities and graduate schools in America. MOOCs make classes available for free throughout the world via the internet. We are also starting to see courses which are recognized for credits. In view of these new developments which defy the constraints of space and time, it is important for universities to redefine the value of studying on a university campus for 4 years. At the same time, universities must clarify their responsibility for cultivating a certain kind of students. Normally, university education has consisted of inputting knowledge into students from the perspective of instructors. However, there is now a global trend of guaranteeing the outcome; in other words, what students have become capable of from a student perspective. Recently, the OECD has started a survey (AHELO: Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes) regarding the results of learning at international universities. There is now demand for guaranteeing the quality of students across national borders. Japanese universities must change from institutions that take good care of students to institutions which cultivate students who act with their own initiative. It is also necessary to revise class methods. The first thing that must change is university instructors themselves.

Still, not all universities need to be the same. Currently, there are nearly 800 universities in Japan. Private universities should fulfill their own unique role based on their ideals of founding. For example, some universities may focus on research, while other universities may target working adults as students.

The importance of conveying unique qualities in an easy-to-understand manner

――You are a Waseda alumnus. Also, you often survey Waseda University as part of your work. How do you view the current situation of Waseda University? Also, please give us your opinions on how Waseda University is viewed from the outside.

College Management,” the magazine where Mr. Kobayashi serves as Senior Editor

According to Recruit’s survey of university brands, Waseda has succeeded in conveying its image of a highly unique and powerful university to the Kanto region. However, in the Kansai region, Waseda is viewed as nothing more than an alternative for students who failed to enter the University of Tokyo. Furthermore, Waseda’s image is waning in areas outside the Kanto region. Since 2000, many universities have acted out of a sense of crisis and implemented image strategy and branding. Even Waseda must broaden its horizons and be more active in conveying its uniqueness and appeal.

――What is your impression and opinions regarding “Waseda Vision 150?”

I like how the vision gives specific numerical goals for Waseda University in 20 years. On the other hand, I have a problem with one of the 4 visions; specifically, “graduates who will support society as global leaders.” It is difficult to understand what kind of global leaders Waseda is seeking to produce, and the university’s explanation is long-winded. In order to clearly differentiate Waseda from other universities, it is necessary to succinctly convey the vision using language which is easy for high school students to understand. Previously, when I was surveying Waseda University, President Kamata described Waseda leaders as “leaders who work hard onsite.” Former President Shirai used the phrase “leaders who are not afraid to get dirty.” If I had to describe Waseda graduates, I would say that they are “leaders who possess a critical spirit.” I have great expectations for Waseda as my alma mater. I hope that the university will clarify the value of Waseda education by actively appealing its uniqueness and advantages. Doing so will ensure that high-spirited and diverse students gather at Waseda.

Hiroshi Kobayashi
Director, Recruit Research Institute of Higher Education
Senior Editor of Recruit College Management

Born in 1964. Graduated from the School of Law, Waseda University in 1988. Entered employment at Recruit Holdings Co., Ltd. and was placed in charge of group business management and planning of the magazine “Keiko & Manabu.” Was then placed in charge of advertising to recruit students at universities and technical colleges. At meetings of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, involved in the formulation of recommendations for education policy. Afterwards, worked in the Management Planning Office and Corporate Communication Office. Held positions including Secretary to Chairperson, Special Advisor and Policy Secretary, and Director of the University Entrance Company Solutions Office. Assumed his current position in 2007. Serves as a temporary member of the MEXT’s Special Committee for Connecting Universities and High Schools of the Central Education Council.
College Management Senior Editor’s Column