Japan is now confronted with various domestic issues including declining birthrates, a growing ageing society, shrinking communities and dealing with the consequences of the Great East Japan Earthquake. At the same time, the nation must also grapple with drastic societal changes including the advance towards a borderless world through globalization, and increased competition by rising developing nations. Against this backdrop, universities will play an extremely important and diverse role in developing our nation into a knowledge center by: establishing a knowledge base, fostering innovation, and nurturing future leaders capable of coping with an ever-changing society. Under Japan’s existing circumstances, the reform of universities requires immediate attention and action.
In considering the issues and conditions Japan will be facing in the future, the University Reform Action Plan was established to define the procedures of reforming universities by clarifying: what kind of society we aim for, the skills needed for our future leaders, and the new type of universities we aim to create.
The University Reform Action Plan will actively pursue reforming universities so their primary role is recognized by society as a whole.
The University Reform Action Plan is comprised of 2 main pillars and 8 basic concepts. The first pillar is to reconstruct universities to be capable of handling drastic societal changes.
1. Redevelop the quality of university education, reform university entrance procedures
2. Nurture students to be capable of corresponding with globalization
3. Promote universities as the Center of Communities (COC)
4. Strengthen research through fostering innovation and world-class research
The second pillar stipulates aims to enrich and strengthen university governance
5. Reform national universities
6. Create a foundation and system which promotes university reform
7. Secure financial foundations and implement moderated distribution of funds (improve and enrich government subsidies to private universities, aim to promote and improve the quality of private university education.)
8. Thoroughly promote quality assured university education (promote and secure quality education at private universities in both education/learning and management)
The University Reform Action Plan is not just a plan, but will clearly be implemented under the scope of FY2012 and the subsequent terms set out in the Education Promotion Basic Plan. The Reform Plan will be implemented in three stages through a PDCA cycle.
• FY2012 will be the starting phase. National debate will begin, and the necessary systems and mechanisms for implementation will be examined.
• FY2013-FY2014 will be the phase in which the systems and mechanisms towards reform will be organized, and assistance procedures will be implemented.
• FY2015-FY2017 will assess and verify these implementations, and aim to further develop and strengthen reforms.