An Update from the Dean Stronach
Placement, Study Abroad and Scholarships
March 3, 2011
I was fortunate to have an article published in the Asahi Shimbun on February 18 (English version on Asahi.com on March 2) about the lack of global competitiveness of Japanese universities and the problems that Japanese university graduates have getting hired. There has been much written in the Japanese press about the problem and, at the same time, about the number of non-Japanese people who are being hired by Japanese firms. My point is that nationality is not relevant. It is not decreases in the number of Japanese being hired or increases in the number of non-Japanese hired, it is that Japanese firms are becoming more and more aware that the attributes they need in their employees are not found in the graduates of Japanese universities. Frankly, that is why Japanese graduates of TUJ have such a high placement rate compared to those of Japanese universities.
As the global economy and the Japanese economy change, HR (human relations) procedures must change, companies need employees to be ready to go "out of the box", they lack the time and money they traditionally put into employee training, and they need employees to be capable of working with and doing business with non-Japanese. Japanese universities are still not doing a good job educating those skills and abilities in their graduates; so as Japanese universities are unable to meet the changing needs of Japanese companies, they will begin to hire non-Japanese.
A point I made in the article is that both study abroad and internships are important to a liberal arts education. Study abroad teaches students how to communicate with and understand people unlike themselves. Internships create career knowledge and contacts, and are an important mechanism by which universities and companies communicate. I believe that we should do more to develop them, hopefully by combining them; doing an internship while studying abroad for credit is the ultimate academic "twofer". However, study abroad is a real problem for students at Japanese universities, unless there is an exchange agreement with the foreign university, as the tuition of the host university is usually more expensive than that of the Japanese university. Here at TUJ, the situation is even more confused as all of our non-Japanese students are studying abroad for their entire education. However, whether TUJ or non-TUJ students, Japanese or non-Japanese students, all universities, including TUJ, have to do a better job of helping to fund our students' education, both at the home institution and during study abroad.
The problem for TUJ's non-Japanese students has been the high value of the yen. "En-daka" has driven up the tuition for non-Japanese students by as much as 30 percent over the past three years in terms of US dollar. This has led me to give greater consideration to increasing the amount of scholarship money available to all TUJ students, increasing the amount given to students according to need as opposed to merit, and increasing the amount given to continuing students while maintaining the amount given to new students at the current level. I am now working with the TUJ Board of Overseers and other outside agencies to increase the amount of scholarships available to TUJ students and I hope to have some good news for you soon.
Finally, on a personal note, the rains of early March have made me think about how much I love Tokyo in the winter, from November to March. It seems as if the days are always sunny and the temperatures are always about 10 degrees. Perfect. Maybe this year seemed even a little bit better than usual because contrast always makes things clearer. This was definitely a winter to be on the Japan Campus as opposed to the main campus as Philadelphia had one of the worst winters on record. They have received about 200 centimeters of snow in seven major storms since Christmas. There were several times this year when the main campus actually delayed opening because of the storm conditions, and that almost never happens. Temple University has 37,000 students and 6,000 employees; can you imagine how difficult it must be to make the decision to shut down or even delay opening?
With best regards,