It seems to me that mobilizing opinion to reflect on the future of universities in Japan, at a point in history that is important for the future of higher education everywhere, is a healthy reaction.
$@A4J8(JFrom: "Draxler, Alexandra"
To: "'Toru Tsujishita'" Subject: RE: A crisis of national universities in Japan Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2000 12:13:01 +0200 Dear sir, Thank you for your message, which I received only after my return from the G8 Education ministers' meeting. UNESCO would not, in any case, have used its participation in this meeting to give advice in public to a particular country about how to establish its internal education policies. Major changes always bring concerns about how they will work out in the long run. UNESCO's position is dictated by its constitutional mandate to collaborate with countries but not to interfere in their domestic policies. It seems to me that mobilizing opinion to reflect on the future of universities in Japan, at a point in history that is important for the future of higher education everywhere, is a healthy reaction. Sincerely yours, Alexandra Draxler Director, Task force on Education for the Twenty-first Century UNESCO 7, Place de Fontenoy 75352 Paris 07 SP France tel. 33 1 45 68 11 23 fax. 33 1 45 68 56 32 <http://www.unesco.org/delors>
$@!c(JA crisis of national universities in Japan$@!d(J Message-ID:
From: Toru Tsujishita To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: A crisis of national universities in Japan Date: Sun, 2 Apr 2000 12:33:01 +0200 Dear Ms. Alexandra Draxler, I am a mathematician working in Hokkaido University and writing this letter to ask you to pay attention to the deep difficulty confronting the present and the future national universities in Japan. As you might already know very well, the Japanese government is planning to change the national universities system, ?making them into so called Indepedent Administrative Agencies, new institution recently designed to reduce the size of governmental organization. When the plan is realized, the universities will have more administrative freedom but less academic and educational freedom, as is seen clearly from the law called "Common Law of Independent Administrative Agencies." At first, most people feel puzzled to hear that such a clumsy plan is really going to be carried out soon. The impetus originated from the pledge of the present cabinet to reduce the number of government employees to 75% in ten years. One of the most efficient and easy way to achieve this pledge is to change national universities systems so that the 130 thounsands staffs cease to be national employees. This real politic motivation behind the plan made many people in university angry with the government. Partly to conciliate these people, the Liberal Democratic Party made a proposal which tries to persuade them that the plan is a good one also for universities and stress the following merits. (1) The universities will have more independence in administrative works. For example they can determine the salary of the staffs according to their contribution. (2) There will be severe competition among universities, among faculties and among staffs, which will improve the quality of the national universities in various ways. In fact, every five years, the universities will be somehow evaluated so that the officers in the authorities concerned can decide to reform and/or abolish universities according to the performance in education and research as well as in their contribution to industry. (3) There will emerge various types of universities, e.g. community colleges, graduate schools, medical schools, etc. which will improve the efficiency of education and research in universities, since some staffs will engage solely in research and others in education. However, it is obvious that the point (2) will strengthen greatly the control of the ministries concerned, even over the academic activities. This will damage the balanced evolution of academic research as well as the mission of higher education giving the students not only the expert knowledge but also deep and constant concern for the fates of people, especially for the weaker ones. Moreover the point (3) will block the movement of staffs among national universities since most people do not like to move to much worse environment. The introduction of time contracts will not remedy the situation but will work only as a mechanism to dismiss young researchers when they are not necessary from the point of view of research bosses. This possibly disastrous change of the Japanese national university system would also give bad effects to the direction of world-wide higher education system, since it is a strong movement against the WORLD DECLARATION ON HIGHER EDUCATION FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY by UNESCO. The present cabinet however has no intention to pay attention to our anxieties and are ready to realize the plan soon. I would like to ask you to warn the Japanese government, in the occasion of G8 Education Ministers' Meeting and Forum, about the misconception on the higher education behind the plan and to spend more time to check the plan whether or not it will cripple Japanese universities in many aspects. With best wishes, -------------------------------------------- Professor, Department of Mathematics, Hokkaido Universeity Kita 10 Nishi 8, Sapporo 060-0810 JAPAN Tel & Fax +81-11-727-3705 email@example.com -------------------------------------------- PS. The Faculty and Staff Union of Japanese Universities made the following ad in New York Times:
Say No to Free Ride on Academic Resaerch and Higher Education.In the first year of the third millennium we, the members of Japanese universities, recognize our missions, The global ecology crisis, fear of of nuclear weapons, regional wars and genocide, a terrible imbalance in the distribution of economic resources, the collapse of human values caused by wealth, the despair caused by poverty... we believe that these and other difficulties can only be faced by relying on human wisdom.
Universities and colleges always been centers of wisdom. And now, thanks to the development of modern means of communication, we can cooperate with each other closely.
Higher education and high quality academic research form one of the pillars of human society. For precisely this reason public spending on universities and colleges is needed. In a world where globalization is advancing, no nation can escape this responsibility.
However, on a plea of financial difficulty, the Japanese government is about to shirk its responsibilities. The result will be deterioration in the educational circumstances of students and in our working conditions. Japan's responsibility for promoting global co-operation will be impaired.
According to estimates, the average tuition fee for higher education in Japan would exceed 40,000 dollars per year if the government withdrew its support for universities. This is equal to the average income of a Japanese worker, Similar fees would have to be charged to foreign students studying in Japan.
Even now scholarships and grants available to students are insufficient to cover tuition fees and living expences. Moreover, repayment of educational loans can extend over many years and involve heav interest charges. Many people worry that, in future, these burdens will become even heavier.
The withdrawal of government support would also meat that various educational and research programmes that help to solve world problems would stop. This means that the people of the world would be penalized by the government's action.
We reject a free ride on academic research and higher education. We believe in global cooperation, We protest against the Japanese government's proposal to reduce spending on academic research and higher education.
For the brilliant future of the world's peoples, For global solidarity we send this message from Japan.