EDEV_506 Week 2_3

Your idea of getting more students to join the professional association seems like a good one. My local teachers’ association has a special rate for trainee teachers and actively encourages students to attend meetings at reduced rates. It is an excellent way of developing the communities of practice relevant to our profession’s development.

Another idea may be to have more student representation and participation in university governance. This idea is a contested one on theoretical and cultural bases, though. Very few of Japan’s universities have any student representation (Poole, 2010), and those that do—for instance at my university—the roles students are allowed to play is highly restricted. Membership to the faculty senate is limited mainly to full professors (Yonezawa, 2014), although as an associate professor I was admitted to the senate without voice in my last institution and with voice in my current one. Against this Japanese cultural position, the European perspective indicates a strong willingness to include the student voice in university governance (Klemenčič, 2011). The other reason that student representation may be problematic is that students may not have the ability to handle the complexity of decision making required when dealing with university-wide affairs (Zuo & Ratsoy, 1999).

I also wonder if including the student voice more would run the risk of prioritising the students’ immediate needs, for example, to develop skills related to job hunting and their limited epistemological view of the contingencies of adult life, over more longer scale developmental needs that students themselves may not be aware of. Still, involving students in some capacity is likely to increase their engagement with their own education and development (Klemenčič, 2011), and may have the added benefit of helping sustain any professional affiliation they may become part of.


Klemenčič, M. (2011). The public role of higher education and student participation in higher education governance. In J. Brennan & T. Shah (Eds.),Higher Education and Society in Changing Times: looking back and looking forward (pp. 74–83). Centre for Higher Education Research and Information & The Open University. Retrieved from http://www.open.ac.uk/cheri/documents/Lookingbackandlookingforward.pdf

Poole, G. S. (2010). The Japanese Professor: An Ethnography of a University Faculty. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Retrieved from PDF e-book

Yonezawa, A. (2014). The Academic Profession and University Governance Participation in Japan: Focusing on the Role of Kyoju-kai. Educational Studies in Japan: International Yearbook, 8, 19–31.

Zuo, B. & Ratsoy, E. W. (1999). Student Participation in University Governance. The Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 29(1), 1-26.

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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