World | EU SPECIAL 2015

Encouraging studying abroad

by Mami Maruko

Staff Writer

With heightened interest among Japanese students and researchers aiming to study in Europe in recent years, the Delegation of the European Union to Japan will hold its fourth European Higher Education Fair 2015 from May 15 to 17.

The fair will take place at Meiji University’s Surugadai Campus in Tokyo on May 15 and 16, and on May 17 at Doshisha University’s Imadegawa Campus in Kyoto. Thirty-two higher education institutions, as well as 16 embassies and education promotion agencies will provide the latest information on their many study programs and courses.

The event is co-organized by Campus France, the German Academic Exchange Service, Meiji University and Doshisha University.

Building on the continued success of the event, which started in 2012, this year’s fair will feature a record 66 booths in Tokyo and 44 booths in Kyoto, up from 45 booths and between 35 and 40 booths respectively, in 2012.

A total of 16 European countries will participate in the fair, including 15 EU member states — with Denmark and Greece joining for the first time — and Switzerland, a non-member state.

Richard Kelner, academic cooperation officer at the delegation, explained it’s a win-win event for both the academic institutions from Europe and the Japanese students.

“It’s a great opportunity for the EU member states, but also an opportunity for other countries to come to the event under the EU umbrella,” he said, adding that it’s “quite a rarity for the students to have the chance to talk to representatives from so many European countries at one event.”

Regarding participants, the 2014 fair saw 2,100 visitors attending over the three days, compared to 1,300 for the first fair in 2012, and 1,900 in 2013. The first event was held in Tokyo and Kobe, but since 2013, the fair has been held in Tokyo and Kyoto.

“This year, we hope to get 2,000 or more (visitors),” said Kelner.

In an endeavor to make more of a concerted effort to link studying abroad with good careers, Kelner explained that some of the booths and seminars will feature alumni who have studied in Europe and went on to successful careers, be it in Japan or another country.

The event will offer individual presentations by the institutions, a keynote lecture by Seiichiro Adachi, an auditor of Toyota Tsusho Corp., who will encourage students to go abroad based on his experience of studying and working in Europe. There will also be a seminar for high school students, a European languages workshop (all in Tokyo only), and panel discussions with Japanese who have studied in Europe (Tokyo and Kyoto).

Of special note, Kelner says, is the seminar for high school students that will be held for the first time (only in Tokyo on May 16), in which staff from the EU Delegation to Japan and alumni who have studied in Europe, will talk about their experiences.

Kelner also recommends the language workshop, in which the students can study three of six languages from embassy staff or instructors from cultural institutes of the respective countries during the hour-long session (Students can try out languages for 15 minutes each). French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Lithuanian and Dutch are the languages the students can choose from.

EU programs open to students and researchers, such as Erasmus+ and those under the Horizon 2020 framework, which is geared more toward research students, will also be promoted at the fair.

Now that more and more universities in the EU member states are offering programs and courses in English, Kelner points out that while it’s important to promote the diversity of programs and courses that are available, he says it’s also important to promote the diversity of Europe, including cultures, traditions and languages unique to each country.

Kelner noted that the education ministry’s “Tobitate! Ryugaku Japan” (Go abroad! Study overseas, Japan) campaign will also have a booth at the fair for the first time, underscoring the need for Japan to nurture more internationally minded talent.

“Many students think that ‘studying in Europe doesn’t sound realistic,’ or they think to themselves, ‘I can’t do that,'” Kelner said. This is because of the stereotype students may have of Europe having high living costs and academic fees.

“Even if they are interested, a lot of them say, ‘We have to job hunt, so it’s impossible to study abroad and look for work at the same time.'”

They are also worried, especially if they enter a post-grad program, they won’t be able to find a good job.

Kelner says, however, this is not the case, with many good scholarships available and graduates finding rewarding jobs.

“This is why we ask alumni to come. One thing they all say is how valuable their experience studying in Europe was,” he said, adding that they hope listening to actual testimonials from people who have gone through the whole process of studying in Europe “will be of interest to students visiting the fair.”


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European Higher Education Fair 2015 Tokyo fairs takes place on May 15 (noon-7 p.m.) and May 16 (11 a.m.-5 p.m.) at Meiji University Surugadai Campus; Kyoto fair takes place on May 17 (noon-6 p.m.) at Doshisha University Imadegawa Campus. For more information, call the EU Delegation to Japan at 03-5422-6001 or visit www.ehef-japan.org, or Facebook: www.facebook.com/EUryugaku

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