EDEV_506 Week 1_1

You accurately address the reality that different institutions react to the same stimulus differently. I’d like to add to that distinction by noting the difference between reacting to a reality and reacting to a perception. While these two notions overlap and can feed into each other in self-fulfilling prophetic situations (Jussin, 2012), my experience at a lower-level private university in Japan led me to understand that it was the Board of Director’s perception of the effect of globalisation that held most sway, the reality being much closer to having very little effect at all.

I was asked to translate the university web site into English to attract potential students. In that institution there had been under five non-Japanese students in the prior ten years, and they had all been resident in Japan during their high-school years. Furthermore, all classes are in Japanese, and the target market for potential students was Taiwan. I agreed to translate our main landing web page only (which I never did) and suggested that dedicated pages to attract overseas students was written (which they never did). To add to this, there was no intention of providing any financial support or even course credit swapping between the university and any Taiwanese partner. All of this told me that the BoD had no concrete plan towards globalisation, only the perception that they should do something.

The situation in my current national university is somewhat different as there are a number of overseas students enrolled, and there is support—both psychologically and materially—for (non-language) teachers who wish to conduct their classes in English. We failed in our application to become one of the so-called ‘Global 30’ institutions (MEXT, 2011) who would receive Ministry funding for accepting foreign students into courses taught in English. However, even that governmental initiative is small in scale with only 385 courses offered throughout the entire programme, including both under- and post-graduate degrees in in 13 HEIs (MEXT, 2015). To give the non-Japan residents some background, there are 780 four-year universities in Japan. There are no official figures for the numbers of courses, so I guesstimate that by multiplying the typical 15-course per week workload students have in their first three undergraduate years by four (a very conservative number of department and faculties in any institution) and then by 780 to get the undergraduate course numbers of around 150,000. Globalisation is seen to be very important for Japanese HEIs at all levels (Ishikawa, 2011), yet exactly how this influence plays out is still very much unknown, and the discussion is characterised much more by the perceptions of a few than by any concrete plans for action.


Ishikawa, M. (2011). Redefining internationalization in higher education: Global 30 and the making of global universities in Japan. InReimagining Japanese education: Borders, transfers, circulations, and the comparative, D. B. Willis & J. Rappleye (eds), (pp. 193-223). Oxford: Symposium Books

Jussim, L. (2012). Social perception and social reality: why accuracy dominates bias and self-fulfilling prophecy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

MEXT. (2011). Global30 Initiatives in FY2011. Tokyo: Ministry of Education. . Retrieved on July 9 2016 from

Click to access Global30_Initiatives_in_FY2011_en.pdf

MEXT. (2012). Higher Education in Japan. Tokyo: Ministry of Education. Retrieved on July 9 2016 from http://www.mext.go.jp/english/highered/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2012/06/19/1302653_1.pdf

MEXT. (2015). Global 30 Courselist. Tokyo: Ministry of Education. Retrieved on July 9 2016 from http://www.uni.international.mext.go.jp/documents/g30courses.pdf

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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