AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 687

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Session 687: Higher Education I

Restructuring the Japanese Higher Education Terrain: Impacts of the 2004 Reforms from a Faculty Perspective
Peter A. Weldon, Independent Scholar, USA

In 2004, a variety of measures were introduced into the Japanese national university sector for the ostensible purpose of loosening bureaucratic control of these institutions from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). Neoliberal in orientation, these reforms brought numerous structural and work-related changes to this division of the nation’s most prestigious higher education sector, most significant among them an emphasis upon greater fiscal efficiency. Specific aspects of the reforms included a gradual reduction in public funding for institutional operating costs, an encouraging of competition among faculty both within and across institutions for limited public funding, and increased autonomy and decision-making authority for institutional presidents. This study’s principal aims are concerned with determining the ways higher education faculty have interpreted and responded to the 2004 reforms in the areas of curriculum and pedagogy, student outcomes, issues of faculty accountability, and institutional governance. Beyond providing an examination of faculty perspectives of these structural and role-related shifts, the study seeks to better understand whether the reforms have brought about positive changes in the ways faculty advise their students, whether the neoliberal paradigm has resulted in observable shifts in the orientation of research, and whether the new model has been successful in raising the educational achievement of university students. Still in progress, this presentation will discuss initial findings from five months of fieldwork conducted at multiple sites in Japan in 2009. Final analysis is expected by June 2011.

Contribution of Higher Education to the Economic Growth in Japan and South Korea
Eun Kyung Lee, University of Pittsburgh, South Korea

This is a longitudinal and comparative study on estimating higher education’s contribution to Japanese and South Korean economies. There have been theoretical and empirical reviews on the relationship between human capital and economic growth. According to previous researches in economics, primary and secondary education escalates economic growth at the national level. Even higher education has been discussed to explain part of the difference among the most economically advanced countries, higher education has showed conflicting research results regarding the effect on economic growth. This research was designed to investigate the contribution of higher education on the economic growth in the national level in Japan and South Korea – examples of countries that have achieved economic growth through educational development. This research estimated a relationship of higher education and economic development over time from the 1960’s and 2000’s. In result, time series analysis has examined a positive contribution of total higher education enrollment to GDP per capita is in both countries. Along with a similarity in terms of the relationship between higher education and economic growth, Japan and South Korea have showed differences in major composition changes over time. While Japan has retained a pattern in the enrolment composition with minor changes over 40 years since 1960’s, South Korea has experienced considerable changes in the proportion of enrolment fields. Because higher education and economic growth are huge and complicated areas by themselves, based on the result of this research, I claim that development of human capital through higher education is a requisite component rather than a sufficient one.

Narratives of Globalization in Language Politics in India
Selma K. Sonntag, Humboldt State University, USA

In the paper, I analyze the debate over language of instruction in schools in Karnataka in southern India in terms of competing discourses on globalization. In 2006, the Karnataka state government sought to reassert the state official language, Kannada, as medium of instruction at the primary school level, not only in public schools but in popular English-medium private ones as well. This state action unleashed an intense controversy over local-versus-global language and culture. In 2008, the High Court in Karnataka handed down a verdict favoring English-medium schools. The state government appealed to India’s Supreme Court, sparking a nationwide debate. I argue that two different narratives of globalization are competing for hegemony in this controversy. The first narrative associates cosmopolitanism with an inevitable globalization: as India “takes off” economically, English facilitates global integration, enabling middle-class Indians with English-language skills to enjoy an increasingly cosmopolitan life-style, particularly visible in Bangalore, the “Silicon Valley” of India and Karnataka’s state capital. The second narrative is one I call the “politics of the governed” after the title of Partha Chatterjee’s 2004 book of essays. This narrative struggles to reconcile appeals to particularism with a celebration of “globalization-from-below.” The analysis in the paper is based on interviews I conducted in Karnataka in 2008 with teachers, linguists, writers, business executives and public intellectuals, as well as a scouring of newspaper accounts and scholarly studies. I conclude by making some extrapolations from the Karnataka case to similar controversies throughout India, based on structural features of state and market.

Internationalizing the Transition Process from Higher Education to Work in Japan: Focusing on Institutional Constraints for International Students during Job-Hunting
Chunyi Tan, University of Tokyo, Japan

With the increasing concern about the declining birthrate in Japan, the need for maintaining Japan’s competitive advantages in the global context, the Japanese government has started to encourage international students to seek employment in Japan. However, previous reports have indicated that many international students abandon the idea of working in Japan though they are initially optimistic about the possibility; they suggest that the Japanese process of job-hunting may have significant barriers in realizing the above-stated governmental vision. Therefore, this study investigated the reasons behind this tendency, using in-depth interviews of Taiwanese graduate students in a leading university in Japan. This study found that even if the companies emphasize equity and state that nationality is not a concern, latent institutional and cultural barriers make it difficult for international students to be properly evaluated by the Japanese companies. It implies that particular Japanese customs, mostly unwritten, linking the transition process from higher education to work, exclude international students before they can be accurately evaluated. This study also analyzed those international students’ tendency in job-hunting and their career designs which are highly influenced by the situation of their home countries. The results indicated that in spite of the recent governmental calls for adaption of international students to the Japanese job-hunting customs, certain fundamental problems are overlooked. The findings of this study implicates that a true internationalization of the transition process from higher education to work in Japan may only be achieved by reconsiderations of long-held beliefs in the “Japanese” way of job-seeking.