319.2 The challenge of internationalizing Japanese higher education amidst population decline

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 12:45 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Akiyoshi YONEZAWA , Graduate School of International Development, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan
Since the beginning of 1990s, Japan’s higher education system has struggled amidst continuous demographic decline of the population of university-age youth, and is expected to face an acceleration of this decline after 2020. Adding to the saturation of the domestic youth student market in higher education, the expected shrinkage of the overall consumer market through ageing places significant pressure on Japanese enterprises to expand sales in the global market outside Japan. At the same time, successful Japanese companies have already transformed themselves into multinational enterprises that do not limit their human resources and operations to Japan. Similarly, under these conditions, Japanese universities, heavily reliant on the national language and culture, are facing pressure to internationalize their outlook and operations. Adding to a plan to invite 300,000 international students to study in Japan by 2020, the government, universities, and industries are now encouraging Japanese youth to study and work abroad. On the other hand, partly because of the continuing inward-oriented preferences of top Japanese students toward traditional career mobility inside a Japanese company, the issue of brain drain is not yet actively discussed.  However, considering the cases of neighboring countries with more internationalized higher education systems such as South Korea and the Philippines, the improvement of competence in the English language among university graduates certainly accelerates the movement of talented human resources away from their home countries, and further decreases the productive, working age population in the end. One possible solution to this dilemma would be enhancement of mutual exchange of students, academics, and workforces within and across the Asia-Pacific region.  Although such efforts have already begun, it remains questionable whether Japan could serve as a hub of such a circulation of students and regional labor forces.