International Educator - January/February 2013 - 54
S P E CIA L SE CTION
“Because our study abroad options have traditionally leaned toward sending students mostly for language study (and still do) rather than having them take credit-bearing regular courses in the target language at our overseas and other partner institutions, we have started shifting toward the latter by adding more student exchange and other components, such as internships, while at the same time raising the target language proficiency levels of participating students,” says Akira Kuwamura.
tions because the credit transfer is not necessary and we can offer the curriculum as it is without modification,” Obi says. Another challenge for Keio and many other Japanese universities is the difference between its academic calendar and those of other countries. “We are going to introduce a quarter system so that students have more flexibility in choosing their summer program, in particular,” Obi adds. Although the grant schemes have had some positive impact at those institutions that have received funding, critics of Global 30 and other government grant programs point to the fact that much of the funding has gone to elite national universities. For instance, only 13 Japanese institutions received money from the G30 program when the original target was set at 30. “The main national universities continue to receive the majority of funding for internationalization and study abroad programs that are just more of the same. Smaller private universities do not have much of a chance to compete for funding because they do not have their advocates working within the bureaucracy,” says Mike Matsuno, director of the International Center at Osaka Gakuin University. He believes the measures provided by Global 30 and other grant schemes are ineffective and short-sighted. “The idea to have four-year university programs all taught in English was 20–30 years too late. Not enough long-term thinking went into it, and the policy was just doing more of the same.” From wherever you stand, the government goal of sending 300,000 Japanese students abroad by 2020 is ambitious in light of the rapid decline over the last several years. While the overall impact of initiatives like G30 and G30+ will be difficult to assess for several years, the individual impact has already started. Momoka Fujiwara, an international business major at Ritsumeikan University who spent a year in Sweden and four weeks in Korea, believes that her experience studying abroad has given her an advantage over her classmates who stayed at home. “Because I went to other countries I met and talked to a lot of people from outside of Japan. What they think and say affected me in a positive way. I think people who were born and grew up in Japan only see the inside of Japan,” she says. CHARLOTTE WEST is a freelance writer in Seattle, Washington. Her last article for IE was “International Articulation Agreements” published in the November/ December 2012 issue.
“The main national universities continue to receive the majority of funding for internationalization and study abroad programs that are just more of the same. Smaller private universities do not have much of a chance to compete for funding because they do not have their advocates working within the bureaucracy.”
Aichi Prefectural University currently offers a few education abroad or exchange programs with 20 partner institutions in East Asia, Europe, and the Americas. They plan to use the grant to increase the numbers of education abroad options in Englishspeaking countries where they don’t currently have any institutional agreements with tuition fee waiver for exchange students. Other institutions are using government funding to develop dual-degree programs. Shinnosuke Obi, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Keio University, says they have developed their education abroad programs by increasing the number of international partner institutions that can offer student exchange programs. One such program is a three-week summer program with RWTH-Aachen University in Germany, available to students in the faculty of science and technology at Keio University. Students take German language class in the morning and an introduction to various engineering disciplines are taught in English in the afternoon. “The idea is to introduce German language, culture, and university systems to our students and to motivate them to participate in more advanced programs,” says Obi. The development of short-term programs encourages students to seek further international experiences. Obi adds that 10 to 20 percent of the participants elect to participate in other education abroad opportunities, such as an exchange program and research internship at RWTH. Another offshoot of the summer program has been the development of a double-degree program at the master’s level. Keio has subsequently been focusing efforts on developing dual master’s programs because they are easily implemented into its existing curriculum. Obi says that most of the challenge related to developing education abroad programs is ensuring they allow students to meet their degree requirements. “The double-degree program is one of the best solu-
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