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YUWA, Akita Pref. — When the economic bubble burst in the late 1980s, more than 40 American-style colleges that peppered Japan’s educational landscape went under, now leaving only four, one with an ambitious foothold in Akita.Among the universities possessing a campus, Minnesota State University — Akita was founded in May 1990 on a 50,725-sq. meter site based on an agreement between Akita Prefecture and the state of Minnesota to jointly foster global-minded people.Students at the school study English as a second language as well as general education courses, which in total usually take about two years to complete. Students then complete the courses in their majors at one of MSU’s seven campuses in Minnesota.The institution offers an opportunity for students to smoothly adjust to American college life before going, said Hirohide Yunome, executive assistant for public relations and special programs. “Less than 7 percent of the Japanese students studying in American universities actually manage to graduate,” he said. “So our program effectively prepares the students for the American environment and university.”MSU-A was also hit hard by the collapse of the bubble economy — fewer than 100 students entered the school in 1993. But it has regained its strength and now accommodates 308 Japanese and 43 American students and a faculty of 60.”I think we are here because of our strong programs,” said John M. Norris, provost. “Students and parents recognize that we offer something unique for their future.”Along with conducting discussion-oriented classes of about 10 students each, MSU-A has about 50 American students who come to study on the campus for six months to a year. Living in the same dormitory and studying together enables Japanese and American students to learn more from one another, Norris said.The school also provides summer programs for the prefecture’s high school students to study English in Minnesota. According to Yunome, around 60 teenagers from all over the prefecture have attended the programs yearly so far.

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