No time to spare for university reform ? what to do with the classification of “science major and arts major”?


I assume that many of you have read the “Innovation 25” interim report. The key message is development of human resources. The message of “no time to spare for university reform” in this global era is defined in this report as one of the major policy issues of the time being.  The Innovation 25 site which is linked to “The Prime Minister’s Office- Cabinet Office” points out that the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy shares this view and their “Economic and Fiscal Reform” report touches upon “abolition of arts and sciences categorizations upon entrance”, “Discussion on entrance examination system reforms”, and so on. It is not my intention to bring up America in particular, but how much do other western countries think that they have general university entrance exams? About university education itself, issues to be considered may include “liberal arts v.s. disciplinary education” etc.

By coincidence, in our well known site of Mr.Deguchi’s DND, Ms.Harayama, Mr.Hashimoto, Mr.Shiozawa are all raising a controversial discussion at the same time over the topic “classification of arts and science” . They are inspired by one another ? wonderful!  I hope that they boost up this discussion. All matters should be decided by open discussion. A similar view is proposed from the economic society as well. Please refer to this year’s March policy proposal of Keizai Doyukai

Well, the entire Japan is looking at this direction, but what will be the reactions of the universities themselves? They are too used to the current system and when it comes to their self interest, what will be their response? Rather than saying “no, we can’t”, or spending years on defining the word “liberal arts” and looking for excuses, we should take a big step forward and start on what we can do. Universities are not for professors, but they exist for our future human resources. So this is where the university people should pour their wisdom. Their insight will be tested.

As I wrote in my blog on March 3rd, compared to the drastic message of the world’s leading universities, there is no time to spare for Japan’s university reform. I sincerely hope that the university people make a bold decision and proceed with the reform. Needless to say for private universities, but national universities that have become corporations also have a good amount of freedom now.

As you can see in the material of the meeting of Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy held on February 27th, the session of educational reform also shares the same awareness for university reform. I do look forward to the reform, but at the same time, is a bit concerned that it won’t be a significant one.  I advise Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to not leave everything up to the universities, but make substantial effort through innovative thinking. Basically, universities are and must be highly independent.  However, partly because of Japan’s historical background, they seem to be paying more attention to the government authorities. Well, it can’t be helped.