Take our user survey and make your voice heard.
national

Osaka university globalizes with fall start date; governor wants English as official language

19 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Odds are that you assume, and correctly so, that Japanese universities generally conduct their lessons and other school business in Japanese. You may or may not also know that the Japanese academic year begins in April and ends in March, but that’s also the norm.

However, at least one of those aspects is going to be changing at Osaka Metropolitan University, and possibly the other one too.

The public university, which was established two years ago through a merger of Osaka City University and Osaka Prefecture University, has announced that it will be restructuring its academic year to begin in the fall and run until the following summer. This would align Osaka Metropolitan University’s schedule with academic institutions in the U.S., UK, and Canada, as well as Vietnam and China, the two currently largest sources of working foreign residents in Japan. That alignment is no coincidence, as the expressly stated goal of shifting to a fall-to-summer academic year is to promote internationalization at Osaka Metropolitan University, allowing it to attract and coordinate with scholars from around the world in both domestic and overseas endeavors, particularly in making in easier for both OMU students to study overseas and for overseas students to study at OMU.

The shift will happen in stages, with the university’s undergraduate engineering department and certain graduate school programs making the transition in the fall of 2027. They’ll then be followed by other departments, with the plan being eventually for all students, regardless of whether or not they plan to participate in study abroad or other overseas educational activities, to begin their academic years in the fall.

Regarding the new policy, Hirofumi Yoshimura, the 48-year-old governor of Osaka Prefecture, said: “I think there are national-level public universities that are also considering this change, but restrictions at the national level make it difficult to enact. It is also difficult for private universities to fully commit to this idea, but because Osaka Metropolitan University is administered by Osaka Prefecture, I would like for it to be a center of knowledge for Osaka.

"Moving forward, Osaka must become more international, and in the broader picture, so must Japan as a whole, and if they do not, they will continue to decline. They are actually in decline right now, as the world is growing.”

Shifting the academic year isn’t the only change that Yoshimura wants to see happen either. “In the future, the official language of the university should be switched to English,” he asserted, though no formal decision or timetable to do so appears to have been made at this point.

A greater connection to the global community, especially as Japan’s population declines, is in many ways a wise course to be taking. However, integrating Osaka Metropolitan University’s schedule to that of overseas societies comes with the risk of decoupling it from the rhythms of life for most of the rest of Japan. With students graduating from Japanese high schools in March, those entering OMU under the new schedule would have roughly a half-year with their studies on pause.

Assuming that doesn’t cause a financial burden for their families, the students themselves might welcome a half-gap year, but there’s a potentially larger problem waiting for them when they graduate. In Japan, many workplaces, particularly larger and more prestigious companies and institutions, do a large portion of their hiring each year in a single batch, with new employees all starting at the same time in April, one month after graduation at universities, junior colleges, and trade schools.

If OMU students are starting their academic year in the fall, though, they’ll ostensibly be graduating after this hiring season is over. That would mean students wanting to work at such organizations (which are the most plentiful source of jobs in Japan) would have to either convince employers to make special exceptions for them to start later in the year than other new hires, perhaps even re-running training programs just for them, or wait until the next spring before they start working, further delaying the start of their entry into adult society and achieving financial self-reliance.

Even for students on the fall-start schedule who are willing to wait until the next year’s hiring batch, there’s a potential interviewing issue. Japanese university students commonly interview for post-graduation jobs during their third year, once again with many companies holding orientation and interview sessions in clusters. Students who started in the fall instead of the spring would either be half a year behind in their studies compared to the applicants they’re competing with, putting them at a disadvantage, or they’d be half a year ahead, a competitive advantage, but with the added risk of being closer to their graduation date and having less time to weigh their options and search for the job that’s the best fit for them.

Both Osaka City and Osaka Prefecture are planning to organize investigative boards to discuss these potential pitfalls, but as of yet have not made any concrete comments regarding how they plan to address them.

Source: Kansai TV News via Yahoo! Japan News

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- The number of doctorate students in Japan is now almost half of what it was 17 years ago

-- Tokyo women’s university will accept transgender students who identify as female, a Japan first

-- “Silence Straw” — Kyoto University raising money to fight noises caused by drinking straws

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

19 Comments
Login to comment

Similar to Shiseido and Rakuten deciding to use English as their official language. It may take a long time and there will be lot's of obstacles but it's a goal.

It's not always about achieving that goal quickly. It's about constantly striving to reach that goal. Sometimes it's the process to reach the goal not the actual achievement of that goal that's paramount.

You can say it's impossible or unrealistic and never try or you can use it a constant goal to achieve and chances are you will eventually reach it.

So either you give up and never even try or you set lofty goals knowing that you may not achieve them quickly but focus on the process.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This plan is doomed to fail. How on earth will parents be able to take school entrance ceremony photos with sakura in September?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

rainyday - thanks for the response.

Actually my comments were in regards to an earlier comment re the failure of such "all English schools".

And I did mention it's small size/limited offerings, so obviously it's not in the same category as OMU.

But AIU is situated in the countryside of Akita - well known rightly or wrongly as real boondocks territory - with a very small population. Who'd thought they could do that???

Osaka on the other hand is a Major World city, a center of business, industry, education, culture etc easily accessible domestically and globally with a very large regional population.

That there exists a desire by leaders to establish an English based major public university in Japan is to be commended.

No one would suggest that it wouldn't be a steep cliff to climb, but "impossible" is the quote of naysayers.

That Japan does not have one such large public campus seems to indicate a realistic opening for those with vision - and of course backing and funding.

I'd hazard a guess that many Japanese students would like to enrol, as demand is shown by how many applicants try to enter AIU yearly.

I'm not sure if OMU is the place to set up or not, but looking far ahead Japan could comfortablyy support at least one such major university. It has to start somewhere.

The benefits would come.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Osaka Prefectural University surely knows well the achievements of AIU and is bent on replicating the recipe as a necessary step towards global success in 2050 and beyond.

The problem there is that AIU is an extremely small, niche institution with fewer than 100 faculty and less than 1,000 students. So that makes it fairly manageable and lets it succeed in its niche. But OMU in contrast is a major public university that has almost 20 times more students and faculty, and offers a much wider range of disciplines that it has to compete against other major Japanese universities in (such as its medical and law schools). Its a kind of apples to oranges comparison and I don’t think they can use AIU as a model (or Ritsumeikan’s APU, which s also quite different).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Probably this is more a case of the Uni trying to make itself attractive to international students rather than domestic ones.

The number of 18 year old Japanese is about half what it was 30 years ago, creating a crisis for universities, particularly those that don’t have elite status. Getting more international students is a kind of survival strategy.

OMU currently only has about 500 international students out of a student body of 16,000, so this would be a pretty radical change for them that would really screw with most of their students for reasons noted by other commenters.

Other universities have set up English taught programs that run seperate from their Japanese ones and have fall admissions. This makes way more sense - it opens you up to international students without screwing the schedule of your Japanese ones up. Not sure why OMU isn’t going that route.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Another disadvantage of enter and graduating in September, it will ruin job hunting schedule. Most of Japanese companies only have opening in April. 

And there's one of your biggest problems.

It's such a close minded situation, hiring only "once a year."

People don't quit or move just one time a year.

As a company, if you need to hire someone, hire them. Who cares if it's mid July?

If someone needs to be fired or quit, who cares if it's a random Tuesday in November? Just do it.

As for graduating or entering universities, same deal. why only have it in March/April. People got things to do. Do it like other countries.

Have Spring, Summer and Winter sessions in schools. That way people can enter and or graduate at three different times in a year. Not just on.

It's so easy to just do some minor changes, and it will open up a whole new world.......but then again, It's Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Akita International University (AIU), also a prefectural public university, is ALL English.

It is based on an American liberal arts format with the focus on Global Studies.

It has sister school arrangements with over 50 universities around the world and all students must spend at least one year studying at an OS university of choice (all in English). International students also attend of course.

It consistently ranks in the top tier in the fields in which it covers.

It has surpassed Todai a number of times as the school with the best teaching in Japan.

It's students are heavily in demand by the business world.

Pound for Pound it's the best overall tertiary institution in Japan, just it's small size limits it's offerings.

Osaka Prefectural University surely knows well the achievements of AIU and is bent on replicating the recipe as a necessary step towards global success in 2050 and beyond.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Great!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Have to wait and see on success. It is encouraging to see Osaka at least making an attempt.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The 'all in English' strategy has been around for years sold as the magic carpet that will take young students or workers to the promised lands of English competency and global mindsets. Haven't heard many reports where it has actually worked though as it seems a bit too much on the ideological spectrum to be a practical solution that works.

What I do like to see though is any institution willing to make the efforts to usher in some serious and rather radical structural changes. It's a big play. The semester start shift was a big one, and shows a willingness to take the risk to set new paths for enrolment and job seeking practices. The nail that chooses to stick out!

Universities will all be in a fight for survival very very soon, so kudos to this place for recognizing the need to try a completely different approach. Shifting focus to bring in oversess students seems wise.

Good luck to them, it could be done if you have a real run at it with the right people and adequate resources. Wish them luck.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The other day, my 2 girls and I were watching a show on the TV about education in Finland. It showed how teachers are trained, and how they're teaching English as an example. Such a stark contrast, there's no tests, no drills, no teachers pronouncing English words wrongly and ask the students to repeat after her. Just teachers encouraging students to imagine a character, creating a story for it, asking questions about what would you do with the character if you were to meet him/her, etc.

A total opposite to the Japanese style of "active teachers, passive students", in Finland it's "passive teachers, active students".

Looking at the show, can't help but feeling that Japanese students are literally robbed off their chances to study, learn and prosper. It's really sad, the country has so much more potential, not surprising if GDP falls even further in 5 years of time.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Well, how about starting in Autumn and ending in Spring? 3.5 years is plenty. Degrees in many countries are three years and most of the 4th year in Japan is wasted time anyway.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

@Yubaru

Going one step further, this is a bunch of garbage in an attempt to sugar coat a serious disadvantage not mentioned in the article.

There is no "advantage" , first off companies prefer "shinsotsu" over "kisotsu". In fact most major corporations have different groupings and criteria for the two, and they hire far fewer "kisotsu" when it comes to mass hiring.

Well said, most of school that target foreigners they never explain the actual plan about foreigners getting good job after they graduate from university. They only make it fall calendar to be available so they can get students, no more than that, they have actual plan how to make those foreigners really able to get job offer at all.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Another disadvantage of enter and graduating in September, it will ruin job hunting schedule. Most of Japanese companies only have opening in April. JT article even didn't mention about that.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Japan-immigration/Japan-s-foreign-students-lag-far-behind-local-peers-in-job-hunting

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

Students who started in the fall instead of the spring would either be half a year behind in their studies compared to the applicants they’re competing with, putting them at a disadvantage, or they’d be half a year ahead, a competitive advantage, but with the added risk of being closer to their graduation date and having less time to weigh their options and search for the job that’s the best fit for them.

Going one step further, this is a bunch of garbage in an attempt to sugar coat a serious disadvantage not mentioned in the article.

There is no "advantage" , first off companies prefer "shinsotsu" over "kisotsu". In fact most major corporations have different groupings and criteria for the two, and they hire far fewer "kisotsu" when it comes to mass hiring.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Osaka university globalizes with fall start date; governor wants English as official language

In name only I am sure. Good luck in getting enough fluent staff to actually run the place in "English"

But the wording is cute too. While English may be an "official" language, everything is going to be in Japanese.

If OMU students are starting their academic year in the fall, though, they’ll ostensibly be graduating after this hiring season is over. That would mean students wanting to work at such organizations (which are the most plentiful source of jobs in Japan) would have to either convince employers to make special exceptions for them to start later in the year than other new hires, perhaps even re-running training programs just for them, or wait until the next spring before they start working, further delaying the start of their entry into adult society and achieving financial self-reliance.

Convince employers? This is ONE university, they might get some lower level businesses who are hurting for bodies to cooperate, but major corporations have a hiring process for "shinsotsu" and "kisotsu".

For the students graduating in 2025, who are in the search for employment NOW, companies would be hiring them as "shinsotsu"

People who are just starting to look for work NOW, and are graduating next month, would be "kisotsu" meaning by the time they actually start working, they will have already graduated.

Many of the "shinsotsu" actually start work sometime after July, and get "fully" hired next Spring.

Convoluted system, but it's the system of mass hiring.

In other words, this school is smoking pot if they think they can get corporations to change their hiring habits.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

This guy gets it.

"Moving forward, Osaka must become more international, and in the broader picture, so must Japan as a whole, and if they do not, they will continue to decline. They are actually in decline right now, as the world is growing.”

-4 ( +8 / -12 )

Been tried by other universities in the past, and failed miserably. Until the entire school system here changes over to a September start, this will be nothing more than a propaganda ploy by this school, to stay in existence, by trying to get foreign students.

It will become a JSL "uni" in Japan.

-2 ( +8 / -10 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites