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British Council Inward Mission

On 21 July 2009, at JSPS London, a briefing was held for a group of observers from Japanese Universities visiting the UK. This visit, to last from 19-25 July, for these observers was arranged by the British Council in cooperation with MEXT and the Japan Association of National Universities (JANU), as a follow up to the Japan-UK Higher Education Symposium for University Presidents, held earlier in February this year in London. As part of the principle mission to apply a formulated policy for internationalisation in their own universities, these observers from Japan involved in actively acquiring overseas students, visited various universities in the UK to inspect how they recruit overseas students. These observers also studied the workings of overseas offices of Japanese Universities in the UK set up for the same purpose.

The briefing, sponsored by JSPS London, was held in the middle of the program for the observer's visit to the UK. Participants from the Japanese side included observers from 13 universities, the British Council and JANU. JSPS London, invited active Japanese researchers based in the UK as lecturers and members from the Japanese Embassy in London also attended, making a total of 21.

On the day of the briefing, Professor Furukawa, Director of JSPS London, gave the opening remarks, followed by observers from the 13 Japanese universities speaking about the pursuit of internationalisation in their respective universities. Recently, in Japan, the well known government "Plan for 300,000 overseas students" is in the middle of gathering concern for the pursuit of overseas students. During the briefing, the points raised especially concerned designing an acceptance plan for taking degrees where the course is taught only in English and formulating a comprehensive support scheme for overseas students. Also, not only the number of overseas students to accept but also the importance of the quality of these students was emphasised.

After the discussion, 3 lectures were given, starting with the introduction of the work of JSPS London from Professor Furukawa.  She explained the points of contribution JSPS London makes. In order to strengthen Japan-UK academic exchange, JSPS London maintains close ties with Japan-UK governmental agencies and universities and moreover with the Royal Society and UK Research Councils as well as related organisations. She said JSPS London engages in activities especially in support of internationalisation of Japanese Universities as one of the important missions by co-hosting symposiums in the UK and providing academic information. She also said JSPS London supports the activities of the UK-JSPS Alumni Association which is composed of researchers that have experienced the JSPS fellowship programmes. JSPS London is in a position to coordinate information exchange and organises a meeting for UK based Japanese researchers as well. Following this, Professor Hiroshi Mizuta of Southampton University, explained about education, research and internationalisation activities taking place at that institution.

The theme of "Internationalization" was approached from 2 angles; 1) needs from an international evaluation improvement aspect and 2) needs from a financial aspect. The discussion points introduced included how the World university rankings' international section gives an indicator of the significantly low marks Japanese Universities have been evaluated with, how UK universities are reacting severely to the financial aspect and how the acceptance of overseas students is directly connected to key financial policies.

Additionally, attracting globally recognised researchers and promoting the work of their researchers, and how the person in charge of marketing at Southampton University is using the web to make daily press releases and breaking news bulletins to do these things, were points also explained by Professor Mizuta.

Finally, with regards to the overseas offices of Japanese Universities in London, Professor Hiroshi Fukuda from Hosei University's European Research Centre gave an outline of the activities they are doing. This centre is one of 3 of Hosei university's overseas bases and has 34 years of history. He explained that currently, research work, holding seminars/symposiums, remote lectures and Alumni support are the big activities the centre does. Especially that the remote lectures given by Professors in the overseas office as their usual lessons, are delivered smoothly every week, was a point that attracted the interest of the participants. Another innovation introduced was the use of "Second Life," Hosei University's virtual campus.

After the briefing, besides the Japanese researchers based in UK, members from the London offices of government agencies such as the Japan Foundation, JICA, and Japan Sports Agency (NAASH), joined to take part in the networking reception that was later held. It became a valuable experience for participants to exchange information about their areas of excellence and to constructively exchange opinions on the academic activities taking place in the UK. This reception brought a successful close to the day's events.

The institutions that participated from Japan were as follows:

1Ms. Keiko KobayashiGifu University
2Mr. Mitsuru MizunoNagoya Institute of Technology
3Ms. Miki HaradaOkayama University
4Ms. Ruth VirginEhime University
5Prof. Masaki TaniguchiKochi University
6Mr. Kenji KajiwaraKyushu University
7Ms. Tomoko KonoUniversity of the Ryukyus
8Ms. Yuka OkuraAkita International University
9Dr. Hideyuki TauraOsaka Prefectual University
10Mr. Osamu SugiyamaShibaura Institute of Technology
11Mr. Hiromichi NagatsukaWaseda University
12Ms. Akemi MitsuiRitsumeikan University
13Mrs. Yoshimi MatsuuraDoshisha University
14Mr. Yuichi OdaThe Japan Association of National Universities (JANU)
15Ms. Tomoe AoyamaBritish Council Japan

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