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Campus Now

Spring Verdure Issue (May. 2014)


Internationalization at Waseda

Waseda University was the first Japanese university to promote internationalization and produce outstanding talents who will perform well globally.
Promotion of internationalization at Waseda was spurred by selection to the MEXT's Program for Development of Internationalization Bases (Global 30) from the 2008 to 2013 academic years. Our university has greatly increased the number of courses in which a degree can be obtained through English classes only. We have also developed our system for accepting foreign students and promoted strategic international partnerships. This article discusses the results of internationalization at Waseda University, as well as the future outlook.

Interview with Vice-President

How has internationalization changed Waseda?

Vice President Katsuichi Uchida discussed internationalization projects at Waseda, the results of Global 30, and future prospects.

From Dejima to Wimbledon
Striving to become a university Mecca

Katsuichi Uchida
Vice-President of Waseda University
Professor, Faculty of International Liberal Studies

――Please discuss efforts for internationalization at Waseda University.

The history of innovations for internationalization at Waseda started in 1994. At that time, President Takayasu Okushima espoused Waseda as a glocal university from the perspective of “Think globally, act locally.” Beginning with the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, our university opened several graduate schools where degrees can be obtained through English classes only. In 2004, we opened the School of International Liberal Studies. Then, in 2008, we announced the midterm plan Waseda Next 125. Based on the slogan of “From local Waseda to Global Waseda,” the plan declared the bold direction of internationalization to society. In 2009, 5 undergraduate schools (School of Political Science and Economics, School of Fundamental Science and Engineer, School of Creative Science and Engineer, School of Advanced Science and Engineering, School of Social Sciences) were selected for the MEXT's Program for Development of Internationalization Bases (Global 30) together with 6 related graduate schools. Today, English-based degree programs are offered at a total of 6 undergraduate schools and 11 graduate schools.

In 2013, we established Waseda Vision 150 to promote educational system innovation for the cultivation of global talents. By the 150th anniversary of Waseda's founding in 2032, the vision sets the goal of having all Japanese students engage in some form of study abroad, as well as the numerical target of accepting 10,000 foreign students.

――At what phase is internationalization at Waseda?

Internationalization consists of several phases. The first stage is limited overseas relations similar to Dejima in the Edo Period. In 1963, Waseda established the Academic Affairs Division, Overseas Affairs Section (currently the International Affairs Division) for stationing faculty members overseas for research and for accepting foreign researchers. From 1964, as part of the International Program (1-year program), we started holding classes in English to teach foreign students about conditions in Japan.

The second phase is internationalization of education and research. Our university has established English-based degree programs, conducted joint research with overseas educational/research institutions, and instituted study abroad programs such as the Double Degree Program which enables students to obtain degrees from both Waseda University and the overseas university where they studied abroad. As of the 2012 academic year, 4,427 foreign students were enrolled in Waseda and 1,084 Japanese students were studying abroad (long-term/1-year programs). This numbers are the highest of any Japanese university. Waseda has also partners with more than 400 overseas institutions.

As the result of this internationalization, Waseda is ahead of other Japanese universities in entering the third phase; that is, globalization of overall university governance. I refer to this phase as “becoming like Wimbledon.” As the Mecca of tennis, Wimbledon attracts not only British athletes but also top players from throughout the world. Similarly, I hope to transform Waseda into a university Mecca where outstanding students, faculty and staff members who come from various countries/regions and possess diverse values will gather and interact, regardless of nationality.

Innovation for a Japanese society where diverse people can coexist

――Please explain why universities promote internationalization in the first place.

Internationalization has 3 main objectives. The first is to address global issues including environmental problems, poverty, education and peace. The second is to cultivate talents needed to establish Japan as an international society. Finally, the third and most fundamental objective is to conduct innovation for a Japanese society with coexistence among people from diverse cultural backgrounds. Innovation is born when people with different languages, culture, religions and value learn to respect their differences, engage in dialogue, and cooperate. Therefore, Waseda is promoting internationalization with the goal of becoming the first choice of students throughout the world.

――Regarding internationalization of the campus, would you please discuss specific projects and results?

Number of foreign students enrolled in Global 30 English-language courses (by university)
University Undergraduate Graduate Total
Tohoku University 56 100 156
University of Tsukuba 135 65 200
University of Tokyo 35 265 300
Nagoya University 87 59 146
Kyoto University 25 269 294
Osaka University 60 61 121
Kyushu University 77 200 277
Keio University 25 18 46
Sophia University 6 36 42
Meiji University 39 55 94
Waseda University 260 212 472
Doshisha University 80 134 214
Ritsumeikan University 122 9 131
(the number of students)

(as of October 1st, 2013)
*In addition to foreign students, approximately 500 Japanese students are enrolled in the English-language courses listed above.

The School of International Liberal Studies moved to Building No. 11 at the center of our campus. The move was a conscious decision on our part. Waseda is quite different from other Japanese universities in that we don't isolate—like Dejima—our international schools by placing them off the main campus. As a result, there is an overwhelmingly high ratio of foreigners near Building No. 11. You can frequently hear languages such as English, Chinese, Korean and Thai. When Japanese students witness such an environment, they realize the future of the society in which they must live. According to surveys held by our university, 80% of Waseda students would like to study overseas and more than 70% would like to work overseas someday. Furthermore, the International Communication Center (ICC) and International Student Dormitory WISH (opened April 2014) help students to foster an awareness of multicultural coexistence through daily exchange between Japanese students and foreign students.

Additionally, beginning from the 2013 academic year, we implemented a “quarter system” in which 1 year is divided into 4 class terms. This enables easier international exchange of students and faculty members. This year, the quarter system is implemented at 7 undergraduate schools, 16 graduate schools and 3 institutes. Starting from this year, we will hold the Waseda Summer Session for the 2nd quarter from June. We have received an enormous number of applications from students throughout the world for this session.

Society in 20 or 30 years
Sharing the vision of cultivating highly-motivated talents

――What is your view on talents needed in global society?

Today, we live within the fantasy of a prosperous Japan. However, it is impossible to imagine what the world will be like in 20 or 30 years. When I graduated from university in 1970, city banks were a popular employer. During the past several dozen years, the number of city banks has decreased from 13 to 4. On the other hand, when looking at Nippon Professional Baseball, 3 of the 6 Pacific League teams are owned by corporations which grew rapidly in about the last 20 years. None of these corporations existed when I graduated university. Instead of skills required at corporations today, current students need the ability to adapt to newly appearing professions. Therefore, it is important for students to have deeply specialized knowledge, a broad liberal education, foreign language ability (communication ability), and the desire (motivation) for coexistence to understand and accept different cultures.

――Does this mean that, in addition to universities and students, all of Japanese society is facing international competition?

Exactly, In Korea, English has been a compulsory subject in elementary education from about 10 years ago. As shown by average TOEFL scores which greatly surpass Japan, Koreans with strong English language ability are employed by corporations and perform well across the globe. Japanese corporations won't last long if they only use Japanese. Furthermore, although legal study is a domestic academic field, the School of Law's decision to start holding classes in English shows how the trend of internationalization is proceeding regardless of field or industry. Moving forward, the injection of overseas capital is vital for the growth of Japan. Japan must create an environment which enables overseas corporations to participate in the Japanese economy and invest in our country. There is a need for talents who can give easy-to-understand explanations of Japanese systems to foreign businesses. I hope that many people will recognize the highly-competitive world in which today's students live.

――Please give a message to our readers.

Globalization continues to advance. In the past, entering a good university and finding employment at a good corporation was possible within the shelter of Japan and the Japanese language. However, such sheltered stability is ceasing to exist within today's ever-changing world. In order for Japanese universities to compete with overseas universities, our universities must become the choice of students throughout the world. We must provide high-level education/research equal to top overseas universities and heighten Waseda University's identity, including the unique characteristics and strengths of Japan.

In the future, I hope to promote globalization of faculty and staff members in order to realize international standardization of university management and systems, as well as to achieve integrated education from undergraduate to graduate schools. Waseda University will share our vision with faculty, staff, students, parents and alumni and then we steadily advance internationalization.

Overseas study programs offered by Waseda University

  • Foreign exchange
  • Thematic Study Abroad(TSA)
  • Individualized Study Abroad(ISA)
  • One semester?
  • Double Degree(DD)
  • Short-Term Study abroad
  • Student Exchange-Nippon Discovery(SEND)
  • Global Leadership Program(GLP)
  • Overseas Internship
  • Asian Business Studies(ABS)
  • Yale Visiting International Student Program(Y-VISP)
  • Top Leader Program

Katsuichi Uchida
Vice-President of Waseda University
Professor, Faculty of International Liberal Studies

Katsuichi Uchida was born in 1946. He graduated from the Waseda University School of Law in 1970. In 1975, He completed the Doctoral Program at the Waseda University Graduate School of Law. He was appointed as Full-Time Instructor at the School of Law in 1977, Assistant Professor in 1979 and Professor in 1984. He became Professor at the School of International Liberal Studies in 2004. He has served as Director of the International Education Center, Director of the International Program, and Dean of the School of International Liberal Studies. His area of expertise is civil law.