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Campus Now

Early Spring Issue (Apr. 2015)


University reform continues.
Toward a global university which is diverse, open and fluid

Upon our selection to the MEXT’s Top Global University Project Type A (Top Type), we would like to once again introduce reform being enforced by Waseda University. Two years have passed since the formulation of Waseda Vision 150. How is reform progressing? What is the goal of the newly created Waseda Ocean Initiative? This article answers these questions and more.

“Waseda Vision 150”

Four Visions
Vision 1
Students of the highest caliber and character who show promise in being able to contribute to the world
Vision 2
Research that will ultimately contribute to real world peace and happiness in human society
Vision 3
Graduates (alumni) who will contribute to the public good as global leaders
Vision 4
Asia’s premier model university adaptable to a changing world
Example of Activities
Establishment of the Entrance Examination Development Office
Develop new entrance examination methods and reform the existing entrance examination system in order to acquire diverse and outstanding students.
Opening of the Waseda International Student House WISH
One of the largest dormitories in east Japan, WISH houses about 900 Japanese and international students. WISH provides an environment for mutual growth by overcoming differences in nationalities and culture.
Establishment of the new research organizations the Advanced Collaborative Research Organization for Smart Society:ACROSS and the Research Organization for Next Generation Vehicles
As organizations representing the “Waseda of Research,” these organizations contribute to the formation of a rich future and prosperous society through research which fuses fields utilizing the strength of a comprehensive university.
Creation of the most diverse campus in Japan
Waseda has partners with more than 700 affiliated schools, one of the highest numbers in Japan. For five consecutive years, Waseda has accepted the highest number of international students in Japan. For two consecutive years, Waseda has sent the highest number of Japanese students overseas (according to a JASSO survey).
Completion of construction of a New Building No. 3
This building actively incorporates the most advanced and newest forms of education. Examples include small-group seminar classrooms, distance learning with overseas schools, and tutorials for report writing, mathematics and statistics.
Special dialogue

Opening our university to the world
“Waseda Ocean Initiative”

A partnership between the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), which started the Top Global University Project in 2014, and Waseda University, which is enforcing reform based on Waseda Vision 150.
Discussion by the two parties revealed common ground between the form of Japanese universities as envisioned by MEXT and the ideal form sought by Waseda University. They also considered the meaning of globalization required of Japanese universities when moving into the future.

Globalization of universities is a theme for all of Japan

Chief of the Higher Education Planning Section, Bureau of Higher Education
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)
Mr. Akinori Mori(left)
Professor, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Waseda University
Executive Director of IT Promotion and Management Planning, Waseda University
Mr. Takahiro Ono(right)

―When considering global society and the future, what issues face universities today?

Mori The rate of students enrolling in university in Japan continues to remain high, even on a global level. However, when compared to Japan, the university enrollment rate in OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries is increasing greatly. These students require a place to learn. On a global level, students focus on the international reputation of educational and research facilities when deciding upon universities for enrollment and overseas study. In other words, today’s universities require the ability to compete internationally. For Japanese universities, it is a prerequisite to provide world-class education and research which creates significance and value for studying in Japan.

Ono When incorporating Western culture and technology during the Meiji Restoration, Japan translated all related information into Japanese and developed a Japanese-language academic system. As a result, the educational level and technical level of Japanese people increased extremely quickly and effectively. In that respect, education and research in Japan up until now has been successful. However, in today’s world, it cannot be denied that a system conducted solely in Japanese is now a handicap. While continuing to value the Japanese language, it is essential that we consider how to adapt to internationalization.

Mori Individual Japanese researchers possess a very high level of education and research ability. On the other hand, a variety of statistics indicate that Japan is lagging behind in terms of movement of personnel in international society. Some examples include the ratio of non-Japanese instructors and non-Japanese students. I believe that we must promote internationalization of Japanese universities by supporting the movement of personnel. At the same time, professionals are needed in Japan in order to support globalization in regional society. Put simply, the globalization of higher education is a theme facing all of Japan.

Ono I agree. At Waseda University, I expect the cultivation of global professional who contribute to the happiness of mankind to have a positive effect on modern society in which there is frequent interaction of national, cultural and religious values.

Meaning of existence, mission, and strategy for Japanese universities in the future
―The Top Global University Project is a major impetus in the globalization sought by Japanese universities. Please discuss the background, objective and content of the project.

Mori The MEXT started the Top Global University Project with the goal of improving the international competitive ability of Japanese higher education. There are two types of projects: Type A Project (Top Type) which contributes to improving the global ranking of Japanese universities, and Type B Project (Global Traction Type) which leads the comprehensive internationalization of Japanese universities. The Top Global University Project is unique in how it defines objectives for reform over a ten year period. These objectives include globalization at universities, reform of education and research methods and content, and revision of a governance system for realizing such aspects.

Ono I feel that the Top Global University Project is a wonderful initiative which sends a powerful message to universities—“consider the meaning of your existence, your mission, and your strategy.” When banks underwent restructuring in the 1990s, the banks which survived were regional credit banks which had a close connection with the community. City banks were restructured into four megabanks. I believe that universities have entered a similar age of competition. All universities must consider their respective conditions, regardless of scale or tradition. In that respect, Waseda has displayed strong conviction in taking part in the Type A (Top Type) Project. Mr. Mori, what is your vision for Japanese universities ten years in the future?

Mori In terms of globalization, I think that more non-Japanese instructors and students will gather at Japanese universities. In particular, as pertains to the Type A (Top Type) Project, I expect Japanese universities to compete with top universities on an international scale and to attract outstanding professionals from throughout Japan and the world. Even so, it is not enough for only universities selected to the project to promote globalization. I hope that this project will serve as an impetus for universities throughout Japan to take independent action, and that unique forms of globalization will take place at all of the more than 700 universities in Japan.

Ono In November 2012, our university announced the mid- to long-term strategic plan Waseda Vision 150 as a roadmap to our 150th anniversary in 2032. Currently, we are implementing reform including the cultivation of global leaders. Our definition of a global leader is not limited to professionals who perform at global institutions such as the United Nations. It also includes professionals who perform with a global perspective and global values regardless of their country, region and community. Numerous universities are also needed for developing professionals who will contribute to globalization in that region.

Fundamental university reform including the Japanese education system!
―What is your opinion of the Waseda Ocean Initiative?

Mori The Waseda Ocean Initiative has set the numerical targets of 10,000 non-Japanese students, 10,000 Japanese students with experience studying overseas, and cultivation of 100,000 global professionals in a ten-year period. The project has defined very specific steps, such as the establishment of six advance model bases including Japanese Culture Studies.

Ono The goal of Waseda Ocean Initiative is to make Waseda University an institution chosen by students, researchers and instructors from throughout the world. To achieve this goal, we must heighten the quality of our education and research as a global university. In response, we have set specific targets based on the three keywords of “diversity,” “openness,” and “movement.” We have also established six specific projects for realizing those targets. Furthermore, in order to heighten the quality of education and research, we will select six model bases with high international recognition and invest on them intensely.

Mori In terms of quality, it is necessary to continually develop a system of quality assurance as an international university; in other words, a system in which graduation from a Japanese university is properly evaluated overseas. Furthermore, movement of personnel is also important for improving university education and research. More specifically, this refers to highly-experienced non-Japanese instructors and outstanding non-Japanese students.

Ono That’s right. In order to incorporate a variety of diverse perspectives in education and research, it is vital to increase the ratio of non-Japanese instructors and female instructors. For example, consider the Japanese Culture Studies which is one field of the six advance model bases. Until now, Japanese researchers at this base have conducted research on Japanese literature only within Japan, have written their thesis in Japanese, and have conveyed their findings in the Japanese language. However, times have changed and Columbia University (USA) is now the hub of Japanese studies. Numerous non-Japanese researchers are focusing on Japan and rediscovering Japanese literature such as the Tale of Genji and The Pillow Book through perspectives and values which differ completely from Japanese researchers. Indeed, diverse values and perspectives are essential for discerning the essence of Japanese literature.

Mori A system for ensuring vibrant movement of personnel is necessary in order to improve quality as an international university. The MEXT revised standards for establishing universities in autumn 2014 and it is now possible to implement joint degree programs (multiple universities cooperate to issue a diploma) in Japan. I hope that universities will actively utilize such programs to promote internationalization.

Ono The realization of joint degree programs can be expected to produce a synergistic effect at both universities in terms of increasing quality. In order for both universities to perceive a benefit from the partnership, it is essential to increase quality at both institutions. Another meaningful initiative is the joint appointment system (enables affiliation and payment of salary at multiple institutions) will enables researchers to conduct education and research at multiple universities. In this system, outstanding researchers are not restricted to a certain university and can be invited to Waseda; on the other hand, instructors from Waseda can teach at other universities. This provides a stimulus to instructors and can be expected to increase the quality of education and research.

Mori At each university, there is the need to implement a university-wide instructor hiring system and enforce fundamental reform of governance related to university management.

Ono We are very grateful for the flexible response of the MEXT, including revision of applicable laws. It is extremely reassuring to feel the MEXT’s conviction toward specific steps for promoting the globalization of higher education.

Mori In turn, we have great expectations for Waseda University, which has actively advanced globalization until now. For example, your university is one of the top schools in Japan when it comes to accepting non-Japanese students.

Becoming a university chosen throughout the world

Mori Waseda University is conducting pioneering new projects in a variety of fields. For example, the funding partnership with overseas universities which is proposed in Waseda Ocean Initiative is a unique aspect unlike any other university.

Ono Moving forward, instead of relying only on tuition fees to improve the quality of education and research, we hope to create a system for contributions through donations. The culture of making donations is firmly rooted overseas. For example, Harvard University possesses approximately 4 trillion yen in assets through donations. These assets are managed at a yearly interest rate of 10%, thus producing about 4 billion yen in revenue. Half of this revenue is applied to current accounts at the university. It is said that donations account for approximately half of total revenue at Harvard University. Other examples included Stanford University and Yale University, which possess donated assets of about 3 trillion yen and 2.5 trillion yen, respectively. We have incorporated such examples into a single model. Until now, Waseda has collected donations only from within Japan—for example, from graduates and domestic corporations—but we hope to receive donations from throughout the world in the future. For this purpose, we are implementing reform to become an appealing university which will be selected for donations from overseas.

Mori It would be a true symbol of international recognition if a Japanese university were to receive donations from a foreign corporation. It would also be an advantage in terms of globalization at that university. Currently, Waseda University is already implementing reform to achieve targets set in Waseda Vision 150, and reform efforts are being shared throughout your university. Have there been any changes as a result of Waseda Ocean Initiative?

Ono The MEXT’s Program for Promoting the Enhancement of Research Universities (from August 2014) and Top Global University Project (from September 2014) act as a driving force for further advancing our university’s vision. We plan on achieving targets for Waseda Vision 150 in 2032, which is about twenty years from now. However, in the case of the Top Global University Project, goals must be achieved by ten years from now. It goes without saying that other universities are focused on achievement in ten years. Therefore, Waseda would be left behind if we were to take a relaxed attitude which only focuses on twenty years from now. In that respect, Waseda Ocean Initiative has made it possible to implement reform at a faster pace. The program is also significant in terms of unifying action at our university.

Becoming a leader of Japanese universities
―In closing, please give a message to our readers, including your aspirations for the future.

Mori When considering the orientation of our policy, the MEXT wants to enhance both globalization and invigoration/contribution to local communities. Furthermore, by reforming high education conditions which tend to place a heavy burden on household finances, we want to encourage the growth of higher education in Japan. Waseda University has always been a leader of Japanese universities, and I hope that the university will enforce further promotion for globalization. I expect Waseda University to become a model of success.

Ono Implementing this reform will provide future Waseda students with an outstanding opportunity to connect with the world. Moreover, graduates will be motivated to perform in society by the pride that comes from having studied at Waseda University, a Top Global University. We want to exist as a university which brings pride to all students—present, past and future. Furthermore, we will not hoard know-how gained through the Top Global University Project. On the contrary, we will actively disclose such know-how in order to contribute to universities throughout Japan.

―Thank you very much for your time today.

Mr. Akinori Mori
Chief of the Higher Education Planning Section, Bureau of Higher Education
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)

He entered the MEXT in 1986. He has served as Chief of the School Education Section of the Kagoshima Prefecture Board of Education, First Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Japan to the International Organizations in Geneva, Chief of the MEXT Scientific Research Institutes Division, and Chief of the MEXT Private Education Institution Administration Division. He assumed his current position in July 2014.

Mr. Takahiro Ono
Professor, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Waseda University
Executive Director of IT Promotion and Management Planning, Waseda University

In 1978, he graduated from the Department of Industrial Management at the Waseda University School of Science and Engineering. He appointed as Full-Time Instructor at the Waseda University School of Science and Engineering in 1988, as Associate Professor in 1989, and as Professor in 1995. He has served as Dean of Academic Affairs, Director of International Affairs, Dean of the Center for International Education, and Director of the Waseda Portal Office. He assumed his current position in November 2014.