Make Japanese universities more or less like sumo world
News On Japan via Japan Times -- Nov 19
One of the reasons why Japanese universities are weak in their international competitiveness is found in the uniquely Japanese way in which educational and research projects are undertaken at the postgraduate level.
Specifically, the fault lies in the system in which a new student at a graduate school is assigned to a particular instructor upon enrollment. Especially in the engineering department, the first thing a postgraduate student experiences is to become a member of the "research group" bearing the name of their instructor.
The research group is comparable to a stable in the Japanese national sport of sumo as each professional sumo wrestler is required to belong to one of the stables. Similarly, the instructor heading his research group is like the stablemaster in sumo. And each department within a university is made up of several research groups, just as a group of several stables form a "family" in the sumodom.
Allowing some variance among individual cases, by and large, postgraduate students are as obedient to their instructor as the sumo wrestler is to the stablemaster. The theme of the master's or doctorate dissertation is chosen by the instructor and when an article written by the student is published in an academic journal, the instructor's name appears alongside the student's as the coauthor.
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