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EDUCATION > Universities

Interview with Masato Ichikawa, Vice-President of Ritsumeikan University

  • November 20, 2017
  • , Nikkei , p. 14
  • JMH Translation

Ritsumeikan University (RU) is jointly establishing new faculties and departments with American and Australian universities that provide a baccalaureate degree program taught in English. Masato Ichikawa, the Vice President of RU, provided Nikkei with the below article describing the new program.

 

One of our university’s greatest challenges is how to stay relevant in a rapidly globalizing society. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has chosen RU to be part of the Top Global University Project. As such, President Mikio Yoshida has set up a Global Initiative Promotion Headquarters to make a university-wide effort to ensure a globally relevant education.

 

RU is doing a number of things, such as sending more than 100 students to study in overseas universities through study abroad programs, receiving more than 3,000 exchange students each year, increasing the number of classes taught in English, establishing more degrees that can be earned through English-only classes, and offering a variety of programs by partnering with overseas universities.

 

Most notable among our programs on the leading edge of Japan’s university education is the implementation of a joint undergraduate degree program with American University and a new undergraduate dual degree program with The Australian National University (ANU).

 

A joint degree program offers students the opportunity to earn a joint degree from different universities that share common educational goals through jointly developed educational programs. The program establishes an “American University – Ritsumeikan University Joint Degree Program,” the first-ever joint degree undergraduate program in Japan, and will be set up in Ritsumeikan’s College of International Relations in April 2018.

 

This American University – Ritsumeikan University Joint Degree Program will accommodate 25 students per academic year consisting of 20 Ritsumeikan and 5 American University students. Under a cohesive four-year program, students from both institutions will spend two years in both universities studying “global international relations.”

 

In addition, development of a new undergraduate dual degree program with ANU has been finalized and a ceremony marking the signing of the agreement to begin the program was held in early October of this year between the two institutions.

 The new agreement will be a partnership to establish RU’s new College of Global Liberal Arts (GLA) within its Osaka Ibaraki Campus in April 2019. The dual degree will accommodate 100 students per year, one group starting from Ritsumeikan campus (90 students) and the other group starting from ANU (10 students), who will spend time at both universities during the course of their four years of study. Students from RU will spend their third year at ANU, while ANU students will study at RU’s Osaka Ibaraki campus in their second and forth years under the supervision of ANU faculty who will accompany the students to RU. 

The new agreement will be a partnership to establish RU’s new College of Global Liberal Arts (GLA) within its Osaka Ibaraki Campus in April 2019. The dual degree will accommodate 100 students per year, one group starting from Ritsumeikan campus (90 students) and the other group starting from ANU (10 students), who will spend time at both universities during the course of their four years of study. Students from RU will spend their third year at ANU, while ANU students will study at RU’s Osaka Ibaraki campus in their second and fourth years under the supervision of ANU faculty who will accompany the students to RU. 

 

This program is not a joint degree but a dual degree program. This means two degrees will be conferred on students who have successfully completed undergraduate studies: a Bachelor of Global Liberal Arts from RU and a Bachelor of Asia Pacific Affairs from ANU through synergistic curricula.

 

Whether it be through the RU-ANU dual degree program or the joint degree program with American University, students will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in high level education taught in English with access to personalized guidance and tutors.

 

RU is hopeful that future global leaders will emerge from these programs. Furthermore, we believe these cutting-edge programs are meaningful in having a positive spillover effect on globalizing RU and augmenting our quality of education.

 

However, these novel joint and dual programs are not without their challenges.

 

One challenge is language proficiency. As classes are taught in English, students are required to have the language proficiency necessary to keep up. A TOEFL-iBT score of 68 is necessary for Japanese freshmen pursuing Global Liberal Arts, and TOEFL-iBT score of 80 or so is required for students spending their second year at ANU.

 

Moreover, tuition will be significantly higher than remaining in Japan if students are to take advantage of partnerships with overseas institutions with high tuition. The question then becomes how many Japanese students are there who can not only afford the high tuition but also have the requisite English language ability.

 

We have established the scope, scale and student mix (i.e. ratio between domestic and foreign students) of our new programs based on a detailed needs-based survey. We have also strengthening out partnerships with our three affiliated Super Global High Schools.

 

Other challenges remain, such as addressing how to work together with other universities that offer joint programs and determining detailed specifics surrounding the program including its financial structure and scholarships. However, these pioneering programs will act as models for partnering with overseas universities and it is well worth searching for innovative solutions for these difficult challenges.

 

 

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