Room for growth in Japan-UK student traffic

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls for ‘globalisation’ and more exchanges at university leaders’ summit at University College London

May 22, 2014

Source: 360b/Shutterstock.com

Japan sends fewer higher education students to the UK than Taiwan, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, South Korea or Malaysia – a remarkable fact given that it has a much larger population than these East Asian neighbours and it is at least as wealthy.

And for every Japanese student in the UK, there are more than 26 from China, according to Higher Education Statistics Authority data for 2012-13.

This was the backdrop to a summit of UK and Japanese university leaders at University College London earlier this month, attended by Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe.

Mr Abe told delegates that for Japanese universities the “promotion of globalisation is an urgent challenge”.

Speaking through an interpreter, the prime minister explained that his national growth strategy involves increasing Japan’s “global human resources” – something that would be “strongly” boosted by increasing the number of Japanese students and young scholars abroad.

It is also pushing Japanese universities to accept more foreign students and scholars, he added.

Addressing Mr Abe, Andrew Hamilton, vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford, noted a significant decline in the number of young Japanese studying abroad in the past decade (although some reports suggest that this trend may have reversed).

One reason for the drop, Professor Hamilton suggested, was that Japanese companies may have failed to emphasise the importance of overseas experience for graduates’ future career opportunities.

Anthony Smith, UCL’s vice-provost for education, pointed out that although “current flows between our two countries are relatively low” there were still more students from Japan in the UK than the other way around.

While the “obvious” barrier is that of language, Professor Smith said, UK universities are now providing better Japanese language tuition and Japanese institutions are delivering more programmes in English.

There had been “a lot of enthusiasm” for “taster sessions” that allow UK and Japanese students to study overseas for less than a year – possibly during the summer, he added.

Responding to the comments by university heads, Mr Abe was enthusiastic about undergraduate exchange, but explained that Japanese postdoctoral students might find study abroad difficult because the time spent overseas could impede their transition to a job in a Japanese company.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry

But the highest value UK spin-off companies mainly come from research-intensive universities, latest figures show