Sun rises on UK Japan project

June 1, 2001

The University of Abertay Dundee is spearheading a nationwide scheme to give undergraduates and postgraduates work experience with major Japanese companies.

Jim Terkeurst, a lecturer in computer arts, is coordinating the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) programme, which was previously confined to North American students.

This summer, two third-year computing students from Abertay will leave for a year's placement in the research and development laboratories of Fujitsu and Sanyo.

Dr Terkeurst has also helped students from Leeds and Huddersfield to find placements and there are plans to expand the programme next year.

"We are really just a clearing house," he said. "We need someone at the (home) university to say the student is good enough to go, but, after that, the selection is made by companies in Japan."

The scheme covers a range of areas, including engineering and biotechnology. Dr Terkeurst said Jetro preferred students to have some knowledge of Japanese, but was prepared to take complete beginners who would study the language. Companies frequently wanted students to speak English to their staff.

He predicted enormous benefits for the students, who would have the chance of a year's exposure to Japanese technology and business practices. "The problem for a lot of people here is that they are not aware of how Japanese business is done. It is all about knowing people and getting introduced. This will give the students lifelong contacts in Japan."

Abertay has already seen a dramatic take-up of its courses in computer-games technology with Japanese. "We hoped we would have a few students interested, but we have 150-plus studying Japanese," Dr Terkeurst said.

Jonathan Grant, who is studying for an MSc in computer-games technology at Abertay, expects to improve his Japanese language skills during his year as a research programmer with Sanyo. "Showing you can live and work in a foreign country shows your commitment to employers," he said.

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