In an effort to accelerate the internationalization of their institutions, Kyoto University and Kyushu University are looking to drastically boost the number of classes taught in English and educators who are foreign nationals over the next few years.
Kyoto University plans to hire about 100 foreign instructors to teach a half of its liberal arts classes in English. Currently, only about 5 percent of roughly 1,100 liberal arts classes are taught in English.
About 5 percent of classes at Kyushu University are also presently taught in English, but the institution, located in Fukuoka Prefecture, aims to raise that to 25 percent over the next few years by increasing the number of foreign teachers and Japanese instructors who have overseas teaching experience by about 30.
The two national universities both have received five-year subsidies from the education ministry to achieve their goals.
The effort is observed as part of the education ministry’s Global 30 project, which aims to promote the globalization of higher education institutions. Under the project, 13 public and private institutions, including Kyoto and Kyushu universities, have been urged to create an international academic environment for both Japanese and international students.
Kyushu University created its Faculty of Arts and Science in October 2011 to reinforce the liberal arts education for its undergraduates before they enter specialized fields. As a part of that effort, the university aims to strengthen its English education, one university official said.
Public universities have been promoting internationalization for Japanese students to gain skills necessary in an increasingly globalized world. Under the Global 30 project, the government aims to have some 300,000 international students enrolled in Japanese universities by 2020.
Separately, the Japan Association of National Universities set goals for public universities to double the numbers of foreign instructors and classes taught in English by 2020. The association is also aiming to increase the ratio of international students to 10 percent from 5.8 percent in 2012.
The need for Japanese colleges to boost international competitiveness has often been often pointed out.
According to Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings, only two Japanese colleges make top 100 — the University of Tokyo in 27th place and Kyoto University at No. 54.
Public universities are also taking other steps to promote internationalization, with the University of Tokyo hoping to start a fall enrollments in five years to boost international students.