In his July 12 article, “Advantage of taking notes,” professor Takamitsu Sawa has invented a strange explanation for the decline in the number of applicants for economics and business administration programs at Japanese universities.
It is not true that students in economics or business administration have fewer job prospects than law graduates because the former haven’t learned how to take notes. If that were so, then wouldn’t we expect a person trained in secretarial practice to have the best job prospects of all?
In fact, very few professors in Japan use the PowerPoint method exclusively for their teaching presentations. Some do so when it is required, but most do not. It takes a lot of time for a professor to prepare a PowerPoint presentation, since Japanese universities do not generally provide secretarial support or assistants for research and computing. The reason [for the decline in the number of economics and business applications] lies somewhere else.
Tuition and other fees at Japanese universities are too high for most Japanese families’ current disposable income, which averages about ¥5 million per year. It is very difficult for most parents to waste ¥8 million to ¥10 million to send their wards to universities to study subjects for which there are not enough job prospects. Many manufacturing jobs, as well as the corporate jobs that used to support them, have gone to China to increase the profit margins of Japan’s corporate sector.
Likewise, most parents cannot send their children to graduate school, as Japanese universities do not provide much financial support for graduate students in economics or business. Yet, the government imports thousands of students from China every year to train them for jobs in the Japanese corporate sector.
The system of recruitment at Japanese universities is not at all efficient, considering that most universities do not advertise for faculty positions, do not recruit foreign faculty as a matter of policy for tenured posts, and there is no respect for higher qualifications, research achievements, publications and seniority.
Most senior positions are elected. Those elected as, say, a dean or president then promote candidates for vice deans, vice presidents, regardless of their qualifications. Possibly that’s a reason why highly qualified Japanese head for U.S. universities.
Professor Sawa should consider these issues carefully rather than try to introduce “secretarial practice” as a course for economics and business administration students.
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.
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