Higher education in Japan is facing an important challenge; Japanese universities need to reform their structures and educational systems to meet global standards.
The rapid globalization since 1980s has forced restructuralization of universities throughout the world, due to increasing cross-border movement of students. As a result, prestigious universities in the United States attracted students from Europe and other countries. European countries were not happy with this and ministers of education in European countries gathered in Bologna in 1999 and issued so-called Bologna declaration, which initiated a series of reforms needed to make European Higher Education more competitive and more attractive for Europeans and for students and scholars from other continents.
Thereafter, reforms of higher education have spread all over the world. That was a kind of paradigm shift from “what is taught” to “what is learned.” Most universities started to place more emphasis on the learning outcomes of their students than a design of curriculum.
Such a movement did not affect universities in Japan, since most Japanese students were enrolled in Japanese universities at that time. Now, Japanese universities are far behind the world standards as a result of sluggish response to global competition.
Recently, Japanese universities began to pay more attention to the learning outcomes of their students. Shibaura Institute of Technology is also shifting its priority to what students learned through the university program. Of course, it is not an easy task since the reformation of the staffs’, students’, and faculty’s mindset is necessary in addition to the renewal of the education and assessment systems. Furthermore, it is necessary to find new ways how to motivate the students to learn.
I am confident that Shibaura Institute of Technology can do it. The key to success will be the collaboration of the faculty, staff, and students to find the effective and practical way to improve education.
Nowadays, global competition brings a serious impact on the Japanese industry. For the fight in rapidly changing world markets, the industry needs talented workers who can effectively function in the globalized society.
Accordingly, universities are expected to nurture a new generation of engineers and business person able to function in global teams. SIT provides the engineering courses given in English at graduate school level through which students can get master and doctor degree. However, only presentation of courses in English is not sufficient for globalization. The students should be aware of how important is to appreciate and respect professional and cultural diversity and get motivated to go abroad for experience with other styles of life and practice. Such a motivation and possible goal will force them in mastering both foreign languages and the technical, professional subjects.
The world consists of various countries with different cultures, histories, and human races. Nobody can live isolated, for himself. Japan cannot survive as an isolated nation in the world, either. Hence international cooperation is indispensable for further growth of Japan. To compete with great power nations, Japan without rich physical resources must be creative in science and technology, which can only be achieved by fostering talented young people having global perspectives and view.
The mission of SIT is to foster engineers and scientists who can learn from the world and can contribute to the global sustainability. To accomplish this goal, whole university has to be globalized, has to provide opportunities for students to interact with the world and motivate them to do it. Let’s get started and take a new step forward. The sky is our limit.
Shibaura Institute of Technology