An Update from the Dean

New Year, New Students

October 6, 2010

We are well into the new academic year and we started this semester with more new direct admit students than ever, more than 150; so many we had to split the new student orientation into two sessions. Overall we have about the same number of directly admitted undergraduate students as we had last year at this time (758) but the number of study abroad students (63) has decreased by about 30 this semester as a result of the incredibly high value of the yen against the dollar. Our graduate programs are also at about the same levels of enrollment as last fall at this time as well (308). The distribution of the undergraduate student body is similar to what it has been in the past; with one exception…the number of Japanese students relative to non-Japanese students is a bit down this year. We try to keep a 50/50 ratio but this year we are at about 45% Japanese, 35% American, and 20% from 51 other countries including those as disparate as the Cook Islands, Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden and Myanmar.

At the beginning of the 2009 – 10 academic year we were looking forward to Temple University's (including TUJ's) ten-year review of accreditation by the Middle States Associations of Colleges and Schools. I am happy to report that Temple University was successful in having its accreditation re-affirmed. I am even more pleased to report that the committee's appendix on the site visit to TUJ includes the following, "Temple University can rightly be proud of Temple University of Japan." I certainly agree with that.

This year we are also looking forward to several new programs and initiatives, most importantly we are beginning our new Japanese language major this fall. It has been a long time in the planning, and we have spent much time coordinating with the College of Liberal Arts as they do not offer a Japanese major, only a minor. Given our programs, student body, and location it was inevitable that we would create a Japanese language major. Although the new major is in and of itself important, it will also allow our students in a variety of disciplines, such as International Affairs and International Business Studies, to double-major. Whether one wants to work for a Japanese corporation or a multi-national in Japan, having working professional fluency in Japanese will be a significant asset.

In addition, we will be working with Musashi University, our Japanese partner, to host the national symposium of the Japanese Association of Student Service Organizations (JASSO) this November. This is a major annual conference and it is the first time that a non-Japanese university has had a significant role participating in and supporting the conference.

As international higher education becomes more and more the focus of universities around the world, we at TUJ can take pride in being one of the largest full service overseas campuses of an American university for 28 years. That kind of stability is extremely rare as is demonstrated by the recent events in internationalization in American higher education. While there are major new programs being developed, most noticeably in the past couple of months NYU and Yale have both announced major new plans, but the pressures of the global financial crisis that began in 2008 have also caused many universities to close their overseas programs. However, the future globalization of higher education is an assumed fact. The Chronicle of Higher Education estimates that in the next 15 years the number of globally mobile students will triple, to about eight million.

One of the more troubling aspects of Japanese higher education is that while the trend toward internationalization increases around the globe, Japanese students seem less and less willing to study abroad. In the past decade the number of foreign students studying in Japan has increased significantly and the Japanese government has announced a plan to increase the number of foreign students in Japan from the present 130,000 to 300,000 by 2020. That will certainly benefit Japanese society in many ways but the number of in-coming foreign students has to be matched by a much larger number of Japanese students going abroad. It is one thing to interact with foreigners on your home territory but the learning experience is much more intense when you have to actually live in a foreign culture and country. Unfortunately, the number of out-going Japanese students has been flat. Many social analysts are concerned that while the young people of other countries are highly motivated to be involved as global workers and citizens, Japanese young people are much more inwardly-directed and are content to focus on simply attaining and maintaining a safe and secure job at home.

One important mission for an educational institution is creating public goods for the community. In that sense, TUJ can play a very important role in Japanese society for those young people who want to remain in Japan and yet develop those skills they would otherwise learn abroad, such as cultural empathy, cross-cultural communication, and English language ability. Hopefully after experiencing the multi-national, cross-cultural environment of TUJ, they will then be motivated to continue their studies abroad, for example, at the Temple University main campus.

With best regards,