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Seminar: Is Japanese Higher Education Really in Crisis ?
Venue: Room 605, KK Leung HKU
Date: 21 December 2006 
Time: 16:30 - 18:30

Department of Japanese Studies
School of Modern Languages and Cultures
The University of Hong Kong


Professor Roger Goodman
(Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, University of Oxford)

“Is Japanese Higher Education Really in Crisis ? ” (in English)

The Japanese Ministry of Education estimates that anything between 15-40% of Japan’s 700 four-year and 400 two-year colleges will no long exist in their current form within 5-10 years due to the demographic decline in the number of eighteen-year olds in the population and the oversupply of places that developed during the early 1990s as the second baby boom passed through the sector. While most of the national universities will continue, in the short run, to be protected by state support (despite theoretically being turned into independent administrative agencies), there has developed a desperate fight for survival among Japan’s private institutions which cater for 80% of the student population. This talk examines - in the context of the history of the development of private higher education in Japan and its main forms of management - why it has been so difficult for those lower-level private universities which are particularly at risk to implement reforms that can meet this demographic challenge.

This paper also explores the effect on the tertiary education system of a developing bifurcation between top universities (which are becoming more competitive to enter) and bottom universities (which offer a so-called ‘free pass’ to anyone wants to enter). While this polarisation will mean many students who aim only to enter lower-level universities will dramatically reduce their investment in studying from junior high school onwards (and hence will become increasingly difficult to teach in a university context), overall universities will be come increasingly accountable to market pressures. This will lead to a dramatic improvement in a number of key areas in Japanese higher education, including recruitment practices, teaching, enrolment management, counseling and student support as well as research and administration.

Date: 21 December 2006 (Thursday)
Time: 16:30 - 18:30
Venue: Room 605,  KK Leung HKU


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