‘No rise’ in share of foreign university leaders in Japan since 1980

While proportion of foreign faculty at Japanese universities has increased, study finds no rise in share of leaders

October 11, 2017
Foreigners at Japanese temple
Source: iStock

There has been “no remarkable growth” in the proportion of international scholars who become university leaders in Japan since the 1980s, despite the fact the share of foreign faculty has quadrupled since then.

A working paper published by the Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE) finds that while the number of vice-presidents with foreign nationalities at Japan’s universities and colleges increased from three to 18 between 1980 and 2015, the number of international presidents remained at seven across the 35-year timeframe.

There was also no significant increase in the proportion of female international faculty at the country’s higher education institutions, despite the fact that overall share of foreign scholars in the country increased from 1 per cent to 4 per cent between 1980 and 2015, according to research from Futao Huang, professor at the Research Institute for Higher Education at Hiroshima University and co-investigator at CGHE.

The study, “Who are they and why did they move to Japan? An analysis of international faculty at universities”, was based on an analysis of the websites and other publicly available sources of 180,000 full-time faculty in all Japanese universities and colleges. The findings were largely drawn from the profiles of 5,351 international faculty.

The research found that nearly 40 per cent of international academics in Japan were educated and trained in Japanese universities and colleges.

Meanwhile, men make up almost four times the number of international faculty as women, while the majority of overseas academics work in private universities, and in humanities and social science subjects.


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