The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology began full-scale efforts to internationalize higher education in 2009 with Global 30, a project to establish a network for internationalization. Significant progress has been made over the last 12 years, with the Go Global Japan Project, which launched in 2012 to support universities foster people capable of aggressively challenging global issues and playing active roles on the global stage, and the Top Global University Project (TGU), launched in 2014. The TGU prioritizes support to universities that carry out thorough reforms and internationalization, anticipating a better future 10 years from now. For the last 7 years, each university has carried out a wide range of activities to improve administrative and educational operations and to enhance international responsiveness and compatibility, based on their concepts. Accordingly, the TGU has steadily achieved its objectives.
While we are continuing our efforts for internationalization, the current COVID-19 pandemic has restricted movement between countries and instead, the use of online tools is rapidly becoming more common. In response, there is an urgent need to rebuild and transform the internationalization of universities not limited to international education and exchange programs.
The TGU has now only three years left till completion. From 2021 we are going to enhance and expand the functions of the liaison meeting for the involved universities, by providing an environment which helps strengthen cooperation and sharing of outcomes, and further extends their strengths and compensates for weaknesses, based on the various achievements at each university so far. This will enable us to improve the international compatibility and competitiveness of Japanese higher education post-COVID-19.
We hope that the universities involved in the TGU will continue to take strategic actions toward internationalization, and that other universities will be inspired by their efforts.
Director-General, Higher Education Bureau, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology
The New Normal Research Map is a visual introduction to Tokyo Tech research related to COVID-19 and the “new normal” that society must adopt. We are collecting information from Tokyo Tech researchers working in these areas, as well as on other long-term social issues, and using the map to share their information with the public.
The main purpose of the New Normal Research Map is to share Tokyo Tech’s profound and diverse research with society. We will also use the map to form a research community that transcends disciplines and departments, supporting opportunities for researchers to hold discussions and collaborative events. This will lead to the advancement of joint research, industry-academia collaboration, and other innovative endeavors. Furthermore, with an eye on the "new normal," we plan to use the map as a tool for discussing the ever-changing landscape of issues that society faces.
Three levels (social issues, solution approaches, and research topics) are mapped and represented in 2D.
Research Development Section, Office of Research and InnovationEmail: newnormal[at]ura.titech.ac.jp
*Replace [at] with @ before sending.
Global Commons at the University of Tsukuba provides students with a one-stop service for study-abroad and international exchange events, linking Japanese and international students to bring international experiences into everyday life. Although COVID-19 has impacted study-abroad programs and made it difficult to host face-to-face international exchange events, Global Commons is actively planning and implementing online chat events.
The following are examples:
Tsuku-Chat is an event where students at the University of Tsukuba and overseas partner universities discuss subjects in English. It is held for one hour weekly, with more than 100 students from different overseas partner universities participating each time. Participants are divided into groups of four or five people and discuss designated topics.
G-Chat offers opportunities for students who are not used to chatting in English to have conversations one-to-one in English. Registered students are interviewed beforehand to assess their level, and then they have conversation practice once a week for four weeks with an appropriate staff member. Participants mainly discuss a chosen topic, but depending on their level, an example conversation can be provided for practice.
GOTCHAT matches language exchange partners for students. Staff will attend the first meeting to explain the rules and help students introduce themselves to each other. After this, the students plan their sessions and schedules by themselves but have to complete a report form after each session. As of February 2021, over 200 students including those from overseas partner universities have registered and 65 pairs have been matched.
City Chat Café
The previously in-person multilingual chat event is now offered virtually by international students to the general public, and has been well received.
International exchange events such as English and multilingual conversations were previously held on campus. Such events have now switched online, allowing students from overseas partner universities who are interested in the University of Tsukuba to participate. This is an advantage of online events. Students at the University can benefit from interacting with partner universities as this helps them understand cultural differences and circumstances in other countries, and encourages them to study abroad in future.
At Kyoto Institute of Technology (KIT), while the employment success rate of our undergraduate and graduate program alumni is high (AY2019: about 95.2%), that of degree-seeking international students is comparatively low (AY2019: about 74.4%). Unemployed students tend to be international students who haven’t yet decided where to seek employment at the time of graduation and look for employment after returning to their home countries. Therefore, taking 74.4% at face value does not represent the actual employment success rate of those who hope to secure employment in Japan. In speaking with international students, we see many cases in which they are struggling with job-hunting in Japan.
Although the main factor contributing to their job hunting difficulties in Japan has been a lack of basic Japanese language proficiency, they also were found to have insufficient awareness of job hunting conventions, scheduling unique to Japan and the need to hone certain skills which Japanese companies require.
With the influence of COVID-19 in AY2020 came severe limitations on face-to-face classes and research activity. Some international students were even blocked from entering Japan. This has resulted in a significant decrease in opportunities for our international students to obtain information from the university and from fellow students. Even under the current circumstances, we are providing active support for our international students as they seek employment in Japan.
On January 14, 2021, we implemented an Online Employment Information Seminar in English for international students interested in employment in Japan. It was our first employment-related seminar, conducted in English and online, specifically for international students.
At the “An Overview of Job Hunting in Japan” seminar, we explained the process, timetable, conventions, required documents, individual and group job interviews, the necessity of Japanese language skills, and the need to register with the “Career Support Network for International Students in Japan.” We also mentioned post-COVID-19 changes in the job market, such as changes in company recruitment, internships, the number of job openings and the number of competitors. In this seminar, we had 12 attendees in total. This included participants who watched the recorded seminar on a later date and international students who are currently job hunting, but who are undecided about working in Japan.
At the Q&A session following the seminar, we received a wide variety of job hunting questions from the attendees on how to select a company that is a good fit for them and their skill set, roles to take in group discussion, how to study for SPI tests, how to respond at job interviews, and other topics. The lecturer answered each of the questions concisely in both Japanese and English. After the seminar, to ensure that the information was readily available, we made a recorded version of the seminar available on the KIT student website and uploaded a compiled list of Q&As from the seminar for students who couldn’t attend the live seminar.
Based on participant post-seminar questionnaire responses, student satisfaction with the seminar ranked high. However, attendance was low. We need to put more effort into publicizing this event. We became aware of the wide range in Japanese language proficiency among the international student participants and that their employment support needs are varied. Thus, we need to expand our support to meet a broader scope of needs.
We are planning a KIT seminar on issues specific to international students, such as changing from one type of visa to another, extending a visa and life after employment in Japan. By addressing concerns from job hunting to the first stages of settling into a job, we will help lower the hurdles to employment in Japan encountered by our international students.
Pandemics and natural disasters – what do they have in common? Both disrupt social and organizational practices. Both call for resilience in society. COVID-19 has caused significant disturbances at all societal levels. The impacts range from national lockdowns to social distancing and self-isolation. Everyday practices and business processes are severed or have been halted. Information and communication technologies (ICT) can foster and enhance the resilience of people, communities and organizations by strengthening their ability to adapt to uncertainty, enabling a transition towards an appropriate restoration of order in society.
This research tackles a question of “how can we foster resilience in the face of a pandemic through the use of ICT?” We try to answer this question from academic and practical work. From an academic point of view, we investigate lessons learned from the past natural disasters through field studies. Extracted five insights are: better adaptability, preparedness, reliable data and information, engagement with the community, and ethical guidelines. In terms of better adaptability and preparedness, we conclude frugal information systems is needed. A frugal view can contribute to better adaptability by encouraging improvisation in the use of technology to sustain critical functions of society using minimal available resources. The idea of frugality is an essential yet under-explored area of research. In addition, we notice the importance of generating reliable and good information and ensuring information accessibility to all local communities. There is a need for revisiting research and practices pertaining to resilience and crises, and ensure appropriate ethical principles are in place. Crises cannot be used as opportunities to embed surveillance or harvest data for the sake of data collection. Issues related to the exercise of political powers, surveillance, profiling, privacy and data leakage should be seriously considered.
With a practical perspective, we run a research project by forming a research consortium with Japanese local municipalities and industrial partners. The project aims to discuss common problems and solutions for responses to natural disasters as well as pandemics. The consortium develops a reference data model for disaster related information. It encourages all stakeholders around residential services to share essential information in everyday operations. A reference data model tells what and how each organization should record necessary information. We expect the model support efficient information sharing right after a calamity. The project also submits a guideline for personalized information delivery in time of a disaster. Personalized information delivery enables local authorities to select vulnerable groups or individuals who immediately need evacuation actions, and alert evacuation orders accordingly. The alert can contain the closest evacuation centers.
Through both academic and practice work, we identify the role of information systems in fostering resilience against crisis, and suggest recommendations regarding transformation for resilience more generally.
Meiji University International Student Center held the “Online Festa for International Students” on Saturday, July 25, 2020. This was the first time for Meiji University to conduct an online event for prospective international students to replace various university seminars that were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This event helped resolve questions and worries that prospective international students were experiencing and motivate them with pursuing their studies at Meiji University. A total of 620 international students took part in this event, which included a university orientation, online lectures, and talk show sessions by current international students.
The program was as follows.
※All program was conducted in Japanese.