Education Minister Hirofumi Nakasone asked an advisory panel of experts Thursday to discuss specific steps on university reform in the next century, calling for advanced use of information technology, development of the continuing education system and more international exchanges.

One agenda item up for discussion will be developing learning opportunities for working people, including a system for giving university credits for those who study on the Internet.

In a report submitted to the University Council, an advisory body to the education minister, Nakasone said despite a series of reforms, the quality of Japanese university education may not be at a level sufficient enough to cope with rapid globalization in the next century.

Nakasone asked the council to consider ways to promote international exchanges of both students and faculty members and to improve foreign language and communication skills.

In continuing education, Nakasone called for development of education programs that meet the demands of corporations and working people, and a framework that offers information and consultation on continuing education.

He also asked the council to consider ways to improve interaction between Japanese and overseas universities through an information network.

In addition, he said a decline in Japanese students’ morale is “a grave concern,” asking the council to discuss specific measures to improve it.

The council is expected to report its recommendation to the minister next autumn.

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