Taking back students’ lost years

As an associate professor at a national university, I completely agree with The Japan Times April 8 editorial “Delay recruitment even longer.” The current regimen robs students of critical time for education, experience and maturity.

University students spend much of their first two years studying introductory or general courses, while gaining soft social skills and life experience though participation in sports, club activities and part-time jobs — all critical processes in experiential learning and identity formation. Summer and winter vacations, meanwhile, give ample time for seminar research trips, study-abroad programs, work experience and internships.

But in April of year three, all such learning must come to an abrupt halt when job hunting begins in earnest. This arduous process includes extensive travel, multiple seminars, numerous company orientations and various interviews.

If the newly formed government panel truly wants reform, why not seek the opinions of all the stakeholders in higher education: parents, students, teachers, university administrators, government, and industry?

The panel might do well to ask: parents, if they mind paying double for their children’s “two years” of education; students, if they feel ready to compete for entry into corporate society at the age of 20; the government, if the current system truly prepares a globally competitive workforce; universities, if there is still a commitment to a humanistic, liberal arts education — not corporate culture?

Why is industry taking my class time away from my students right when they are most eager to learn?

Do companies really need one more full year of recruitment under current employment conditions when there are more applicants than positions available?

In short, all stakeholders in this process, with the possible exception of industry, are losing under the current system.

Yes, it is time to take back the two years of lost opportunity, lost potential and lost innocence.

philip mccasland
fukushima

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

  • Robert Murphy

    A university teacher myself, I fully support Professor McCasland. Companies are effectively treating us with contempt, for no acceptable reason. Students, too, are disadvantaged vis-à-vis others when it comes to evaluation, through no fault of their own.