Internationalization of Higher Education in Japan: The Aim and Challenge at the University of Tsukuba

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The influence of internationalization on higher education is rapidly growing throughout the world. In Europe, the interrelation between universities, including the exchange of students and faculty members, has been stimulated through the Erasmus and the Erasmus Mundus Programs and the Bologna process. As for the United States, many of their universities are placed high in world university rankings, attracting many intelligent international students, and both the universities and the federal government constantly pursue strategic methods for strengthening their presence in the international community. In Japan, the accumulated total number of international students reached 110,000 students in 2003, and now the government is aiming to increase this number to 300,000 by 2020. As is evident from the figures disclosed by the government and by the university rankings, statistically speaking, Japan has a low ratio of international students and faculty members in comparison to other countries whose universities rank high on the chart. Focusing on increasing the number of international students is one immediate strategy for concerted action toward internationalization. However, it is important to note that a high ratio of international students and faculty members does not necessarily lead to true internationalization; rather it is the quality of the programs and output that need to be focused upon. This paper explores the current situation of internationalization and its effect through a comparison of Japanese universities with universities of other countries. By examining examples of actual programs currently offered at the University of Tsukuba for meeting the needs and education of students for the globalized world, this paper will also discuss how Japanese universities will be able to grow and strengthen their status in comparison to their competitors.


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