Over 70% of national universities are opposed to the government’s requirement that universities appoint more outside directors and hire more faculty members with practical work experience, according to a Mainichi Shimbun questionnaire survey. Only 10% of the universities said they are in favor of the requirements. National universities were incorporated in fiscal 2004, and the survey revealed that more and more these universities are opposed to government interference in education under the guise of equal access.
Free higher education is part of the New Economic Policy Package approved by the cabinet last December. Under the plan, the government will cover the tuition and matriculation fees of children from households exempted from residents’ tax studying at a university or specialized training college. The plan is scheduled to be launched in fiscal 2020. In light of the needs of business circles, the target educational institutions must “pursue both academic research and practical education in a well-balanced manner.” The government will also require the educational institutions to have a certain percentage of “appointed outside board members” and to offer “classes by faculty members with practical work experience.”
The written questionnaire survey was conducted in March and April of Japan’s 86 national universities. A total of 72 schools responded (response rate: 83.7%). Some 14 schools, including the University of Tokyo, did not respond.
A total of 52 schools said that they are “opposed” to the government’s conditions. Many universities said they question the relationship between free education and the hiring of outside directors.
Universities, including mainly regional universities, expressed concern about securing human resources with the required qualifications. Universities also questioned limiting the scope of students given free education.
Seven universities approved of the government’s requirements. Some 13 schools did not indicate whether they are in favor or opposed. An expert committee under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology plans to compile the specific conditions for free education by June. (Abridged)