A Change in Japan’s Higher Education?

While watching NHK World the other day a news brief came on stating that Tokyo University, Todai, on of the most prestigious higher education institutions in Japan was considering a move to an academic year that would begin in the fall. Both NHK and the Wall Street Journal referenced that Todai was examining the issue with an “international outlook” in mind.

International Education implications

By starting in the Fall it would allow Todai students greater opportunities for international exchange and study abroad programs.  This is very good news to hear as according to a news report from last year the number of Japanese students participating in study abroad programs had been decreasing. This change would make it possible to study abroad for a semester and return not missing much of their core classes. This is also is positive news to hear for students looking to study in Japan.

One of the biggest challenges for education abroad programs currently are faced with is the face that Japan functions on an entirely different school year than many of its contemporaries. The differences are not as simple as credit transfers between semester vs quarter school systems we have here in the US but in that it starts and ends in vastly different times of the year from our own. The Japanese academic year runs from April to March. This is a challenge for many institutions hoping to have Fall term study abroad programs in Japan. What makes it hard is that for the program to start in September the program would then end in February or March. So for a student to study abroad for fall semester they would end up missing the second semester or their home institution. This results in how many Japan programs are year-long endeavors.

While the articles only refer to Tokyo University at the moment this is noteworthy because Tokyo University is the best, top of the top, amongst Japans universities, part of Japan’s ivy league with others like Waseda and Keio. Thus when they are discussing such a large change we need to take notice.

Yet with a possible change in academic year this could open up a whole new number of education abroad for Japan and other countries for international impacts in both directions. It’s certainly something I will keep an eye on for both my interests in Japan and International Education.

Crisis of Nature

Nature’s running a little crazy today. Earlier today an earthquake registering at 8.9 occurred a little over 100Km off the coast of northern Honshu Japan. Friends of mine in Iwate were reporting in on Facebook and Twitter instances of aftershock after aftershock with loss of power and cell coverage. After that though a tsunami occurred and raced towards Japan’s Eastern coast. It was not just a shock but honestly watching the water rush over the rice patties taking everything with it with fires erupting as well was quite shocking.

Of course though it doesn’t end there. A tsunami is headed toward Hawaii as well. I noted earlier tonight on twitter when the sirens began.

Tsunami sirens just went off here #tsunami #hawaii
Donald White

We’re safe though as we live in the valley with mountains protecting us on all sides but I know not everyone is as lucky. HawaiiNewsNow has been doing a great job keeping everyone up to date with information regarding the tsunami.  It’s 1:19 am and it isn’t supposed to hit for another two hours but still staying up to keep up with any information concerning the situation. I probably should be putting more info here with lots of details but I’m pretty exhausted and can’t do detailed work.

I hope all my friends in Japan is doing well and that everyone in Hawaii is staying calm for the impending tsunami. As the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy says;

Don’t Panic