Institutions of higher education such as universities, junior colleges and colleges of technology play a central role in Japan’s advanced educational and research activities, and through wide-ranging education, the cultivation of human resources with expert knowledge and skills in various academic disciplines and high-level research, contribute to social and economic development in a far-reaching manner.

Guaranteeing the Quality of Universities

 Through an approval system for the establishment of universities that corresponds to “preliminary review” and a certification and evaluation system corresponding to “ex-post evaluation,” MEXT seeks to guarantee the quality of universities and improve educational ability, while at the same time supporting the reforms taking place at various universities, including the development of universities based on individuality and unique character, and enhancements to international competitiveness. In addition, MEXT promotes the active publication of educational information so that universities are able to fulfill their responsibilities as public institutions while seeking to improve their levels of education and research through third-party evaluation.

 Graduate schools also exert a pull on Japanese society, the economy and culture, and as the “knowledge base” for the development of human resources accepted by the international community, MEXT seeks to enhance coordinated and structured education without research guidance focused disproportionately on the training of researchers, at the same time working towards the formation of world-leading centers for education and research.

The Internationalization of Universities

 Globalization is expanding at a rapid pace in university education. With this, we are seeing an increased mobility of students and teachers, particularly across Asia, Europe and the United States, as well as active efforts in response to international competition and cooperation. This has made the globalization and improvement in international competitiveness of Japanese universities a critical issue.

 As discussed in detail in the <TOPIC> section on the previous page, in October 2009, the promotion of exchanges among universities with quality assurance was incorporated in the “Joint Statement on the Tenth Anniversary of Trilateral Cooperation among the People’s Republic of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea” at the Second Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit attended by the head of state of each nation. At the moment, initiatives aimed at promoting exchanges among universities with quality assurance in East Asia are making progress in Japan, China and Korea.

Dealing with Social Issues

 Meanwhile, efforts to deal with various social issues facing Japan are also underway. In light of the current harsh economic climate, in addition to efforts aimed at strengthening job-placement support offered by universities and students’ own employment abilities, we are also active in efforts to train highly-skilled professionals such as medical personnel and those in the legal profession and enhance the function of university hospitals as a central component in regional medicine.

Financial Assistance for Students

 To ensure that students with the desire and ability to learn do not have to give up their studies for economic reasons, MEXT provides support for measures to reduce or waive tuition and enrollment fees implemented by universities and works to further enhance scholarship programs.

 In addition to these efforts, MEXT promotes a wide range of initiatives aimed at the diverse growth of higher education, including improvements to the university entrance procedure and the enhancement of colleges of technology.

(Higher Education Bureau)