University reforms tap post-pandemic shifts in attitudes

TOKYO, Nov 09 ( - Pandemic-related disruption forced universities to adopt survival measures, but the enforced changes have become unprecedented opportunities for reform in Japan’s highly traditional higher education system.

In particular, it has provided opportunities to break down barriers between subjects and departments and promote more personalised and flexible university education.

“The pandemic is not only about sickness and deaths. COVID-19 has shed new light on many higher education operations and practices that must meet a ‘new normal’. Tokai is taking this challenge very seriously,” said Kiyoshi Yamada, chancellor of Tokai University, a leading private institution boasting a reputation in engineering and science.

The pandemic led to a global shift in teaching and in learning attitudes, including in Japan, where students now expect the university to be more than a place for top-down instruction. “Universities need to respond to the new demands through disruptive creation and transformation,” Yamada told University World News.

Curriculum reform

The government has identified diversification of higher education including curriculum reform as being among the top objectives to meet 21st century needs. However, Japanese universities are “bogged down with an ingrained culture that prioritises [discussing] the pros and cons of any change rather than taking action. That system is at fault,” he said. ...continue reading

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