Daigaku ronshu: Research in higher education Issue 39
2008-03 発行

日本の留学生政策における学生交流の新たな展開方策 : UCTSとバイリンガル教育の活用を求めて <論考>

Issues of International Student Affairs and Future Challenges for Exchange Students in Japan : Seeking the Active Use of UCTS and Bilingual Education <Articles>
This study focuses on the current conditions of educational exchanges of overseas students in Japanese higher education. Although Japanese higher education institutions (hereafter, HEIs) have recently expanded their student exchanges, there are many issues which have yet to be solved. This study identified some of these issues based upon the data of a survey conducted by the UMAP Japan National Committee in 2005.

The study pointed to the following issues.

(1) Japan is dependent on too many students from merely two nations, namely China and South Korea. Although the Japanese government has claimed the success of achieving more than 100,000 international students in 2003, this was rather the result of an extremely skewed aggregation of international students from a few East Asian nations. In other words, the current Japanese policy on international student affairs has not sufficiently opened its doors to international students from other nations.

(2) However, the educational exchange activities in Japanese HEIs have brought some exchange students from a wider range of countries. Particularly, many Western students have come through exchange programs. Thus, it will be better for Japanese government and HEIs to seek to expand educational exchange activities in the future. This can provide a remedy for the current problem of the skewed demographic representation from some international students in Japan.

(3) Although educational exchanges may be a remedy for the future of international students in Japan, the growth in number of exchange students has recently stopped. This study suspects that this is due to the fact that many Japanese HEIs do not offer any courses in English or other foreign languages to exchange students; and those that do offer them are now facing the limits of their capacity to accommodate more exchange students.

(4) The study also indicates that many Japanese HEIs have not implemented the UCTS (UMAP Credit Transfer Scheme) which is modeled on the ECTS (European Credit Transfer Scheme) in European student mobility, though the Japanese government has very actively promoted diffusion of UCTS in Japan since 2000.

Based upon these findings, the study advocates that it is necessary for Japan to seek a well balanced distribution of international students in their HEIs. In order to accomplish this goal, Japan must expand its educational exchange activities with provision of various courses on Japanese studies, taught in foreign languages, especially in English. The provision of an international curriculum will make it easier for international students from various countries to participate in Japanese exchange programs.

It is also important to note that there are about 2.3 million people in the world who currently study Japanese including around 520,000 students who study Japanese in Australia and the USA. This indicates that it is possible for Japan to expand the number of exchange students from various countries in the future if they are willing to internationalize their exchange programs. If it is too difficult for Japanese HEIs to provide a full range of Japanese study courses only in foreign languages, this study suggests that they could offer bilingual educational programs to those students who have studied Japanese previously. In this type of international curriculum, exchange students could choose a combination of Japanese language education and Japanese study courses taught in Japanese and/or English based upon the level of their Japanese language proficiencies. It is also necessary for Japanese HEIs to become more active in the provision of information about their programs (and for more of them to provide internationally recognized with internationally more recognized credit system, such as UCTS).