« 太陽光発電:新事業の優良株 国も後押し、企業参入相次ぐ | トップページ | 問われるもの:’09衆院選・選択を前に/2 東大大学院教授・藤原帰一氏 »

2009年8月 4日 (火)

私大定員割れ 特色作りで活路を見いだせ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 4, 2009)
Specialty key to survival of private universities
私大定員割れ 特色作りで活路を見いだせ(8月4日付・読売社説)

With the shakeout of private universities having finally begun, these institutions must seriously take to heart the fact that those among their number that cannot demonstrate a specialty will no longer be able to survive.

A survey released Thursday by the Promotion and Mutual Aid Corporation for Private Schools of Japan found that 46.5 percent of four-year private universities were underenrolled at the start of this academic year, almost the same level as last academic year, while 69.1 percent of two-year private junior colleges were in such a situation, a slight increase from last academic year.

Since the beginning of this year, five private universities, including those run by joint-stock companies, have said they will stop accepting new students from next academic year.

Despite the fact that the population of 18-year-olds has been declining due to the low birthrate since academic year 1993, when it fell below 2 million, the number of universities and junior colleges has continued to rise, with the number of four-year private, and state-run and other public universities totaling as many as about 770. It is natural that universities that cannot demonstrate a specialty will be forced to close.


Students' needs paramount

Stable university management will not be ensured merely by contriving to continuously recruit students through recommendation-based admission and interview- and essay-based tests, known as "admission office exams." It is very important that private universities offer attractive courses of study and clearly present their education policy and method of developing human resources so young people will be able to envision their future after they are educated there.

At some private universities, people who have had careers in corporate management serve as president, and faculty and companies in their local community discuss and decide on study goals, textbooks and other educational materials. Other universities have established unique departments, including one specializing in manga.

To increase the number of mature students holding down full-time jobs, which accounts for only about 2 percent of the total, private universities must also provide education that meets such students' various needs.

The government's Central Education Council is currently discussing future university education from a mid- and long-term perspective. We hope the council will thoroughly discuss the appropriate number of universities and students.


Safety net needed

It is noteworthy that the council's first report, compiled in June, emphasizes that the desirable size and nature of universities should be discussed from the perspective of different targets. The report lists seven such targets, including "nurturing professionals in a wide range of fields" and "social contribution."

In their respective proposals on human resources development, the Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai) and the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) also are calling on universities to increase specialization in their areas of expertise.

However, the Central Education Council should spell out in greater detail the targets it believes an ideal university should meet. We hope the council will work out this point before compiling its final report.

The council has also proposed discussions on the establishment of a new higher educational body, specializing in vocational education, other than existing universities and junior colleges. The raison d'etre of junior colleges, whose main objectives include vocational education, therefore comes into question.

Cultivating a specialty is necessary, but it may also be a wise option for junior colleges to actively discuss transforming themselves into four-year universities as well as realigning and integrating.

The population of 18-year-olds is expected to hover around 1.2 million for the next decade. Should private universities remain underenrolled, their management will face an increased danger of collapse. The Education, Science and Technology Ministry should prepare measures to deal with a possible collapse of universities, including a system to protect students enrolled in universities that fail.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 4, 2009)
(2009年8月4日00時43分  読売新聞)


« 太陽光発電:新事業の優良株 国も後押し、企業参入相次ぐ | トップページ | 問われるもの:’09衆院選・選択を前に/2 東大大学院教授・藤原帰一氏 »





« 太陽光発電:新事業の優良株 国も後押し、企業参入相次ぐ | トップページ | 問われるもの:’09衆院選・選択を前に/2 東大大学院教授・藤原帰一氏 »