In Japan, higher education research as an independent field of study had its “take-off” phase in the 1970’s. The massification of higher education, student revolt in the end of the 1960’s, and the rapid development of higher education research in the U. S. were the main forces that prompted the “take-off”. After a rather gradual growth in the 1980’s, the field experienced rapid expansion in the 1990’s. In the movement towards structural readjustment of Japanese economy, politics and society. Universities and colleges were forced to change drastically in their basic concept, organizational structure and functions. In response to the pressure, the Ministry of Education relaxed substantially the University Establishment Standard on undergraduate education in 1991. Stimulated by the initiative, many of the universities and colleges started to reorganize not only their curricula but also basic structures of teaching, research and administration. The rapid development of higher education reform prompted an expansion of higher education research.
Even though research and training units in the field of higher education is still limited in number, researchers interested in the field have been increasing rapidly. The research topics have become increasingly diversified, and many are related to policy or practice than genuinely academic. In 1997, the first academic and comprehensive research society on higher education was established with more than 300 members. Higher education research is expected to grow more rapidly in the coming decade.
In many countries, higher education has only a short history. Systematic research in the field did not emerge before the late 1960’s even in the United States. In Japan there were practically no organized research centers until the beginning of 1970’s, when Research Institute for Higher Education was created at Hiroshima University. But in the 1990’s more than ten research centers at national universities and several institutes and organizations at private universities were created. A few associations concerned with higher education were also established in this period.
There should be many reasons why many individuals and organizations have become academically interested in higher education. Among them are : growing expectation of the government on higher education in the age of global competition : growing concerns about the quality of research and teaching ; and growths in market demands for highly-trained researchers, teachers and administrators.
Under the circumstances, more researchers will participate in the field with increasing degrees of specialization and sophistication in the style of analysis. While this trend may be considered as positive development for higher education research as an academic field, it should be remembered that the trend may divert attention from more fundamental question - namely “what is higher education in our contemporary society?”
Japan’s higher education system was radically transformed after World War II under the strong guidance, or often enforcement, by the U. S. -led Allied Forces. The new system with close resemblance with the American one was so foreign that Japanese had to struggle in adopting it. Because of this unfortunate birth, the small number of researchers interested in higher education at that time were forced to concentrate on conceptual problems of the new system.
One of the main issues since then had been the relation between the government control and institutional freedom. Recent reforms have been directed towards institutional freedom, which created a few unexpected consequences . Given the freedom, many national universities substantially degraded their general education requirements that had been an essential part of the postwar idea of undergraduate education. Meanwhile the traditional Humboltian idea of university disappeared from the campus as older generation of academics left the campus. Consequently, Japan’s university have been left without any conceptual paradigm.
It is therefore essential to establish a Japanese model of higher education. Nonetheless, given the present status of higher education that involves extreme diversification and confusion in practice it will be extremely difficult to expect individual institutions to find a logical model. It is at this point academic research in higher education should play a critical role. In order to achieve it, higher education research should focus on practices in teaching and the arrangements at the institutional level.
Research on higher education is drawing growing attention, as attested by the recent organization of Japan Society for Studies into Higher Education. This paper presents an epistemological model of higher education studies which involves three significant layers -discourses about policy and practice, empirical studies and conceptual paradigms. The establishment of the Society is important because the organization will provide the link connecting the three layers. But the coherence of the field will be critically dependent on the conceptual paradigm. From this perspective, past developments in higher education studies in Japan are reviewed. In the 1970’s the Mass Higher Education thesis played a significant role as a paradigm, which provided the link between empirical analyses and policy issues in Japan at the time. Since the late 1980’s the nature of the issues in higher education. Mass Higher Education is an established reality and universal attendance is not envisaged. The Mass Higher Education thesis is now being replaced by Universal Higher Education thesis as a paradigm, but its basic logic will not change. Meanwhile a completely new paradigm is emerging - that is the development of Market-Orientation in higher education. It involves a set of issues that are significant not only in designing changes of policy and practices, but also analytical issues that have to be carefully scrutinized through empirical analyses.
This paper considers current areas of research in higher education in the United States , and suggests opportunities for collaboration between Japanese and U. S. scholars. An analysis of the topics of over 300 presentations at a recent annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE)indicated that three-quarters were related to one of four subject areas : governance(including finance and management),students, academic staff, and equity. Three other subject areas - teaching and curriculum, comparative education, and studies of graduate higher education programs - together made up one -quarter of the presentations. Research in higher education, which had previously emphasized quantitative research has more recently given increased attention to quantitative studies. Some of the better studies utilize both quantitative and qualitative techniques suggesting the need to prepare future scholars who have a broad range of research skills. The existence in both the United States and Japan of several common issues, such as the role of presidential leadership, the effects of the tenure system, the need for curriculum development, and public concerns for management and financial reform suggests that there may be opportunities to develop programs of comparative research in which teams of scholars from both countries work together and, in the process, both teach and learn from each other. In addition to studying substantive issues, it would be interesting and useful to compare the research agendas and approaches of scholars in both countries, and to consider what effect, if any, higher education research has - or should have - on the improvement of public policy or institutional effectiveness.
After the second world war, Japanese higher education system was forced drastic changes by the occupying forces. In the prewar system that resembled the European ones, students finished their general education before entering university. In the new system students were required to continue general education in the first two years of university. The name attached to this first two years has been changed twice. At first it was called “ippan-kyouyou kyouiku (liberal arts education)” by the Japan University Association. Its aim was defined as “to bring up men of high culture by developing general intellectual ability and a wide background of knowledge,” but in reality it turned out to be a collection of introductory courses. The name was then changed to” ippan kyouiku (general and liberal education) and it has been used for forty years. Still the name and the concept has been continuously the subject of. The image of ippan-kyouiku as required but of secondary significance influenced a wide range of constituencies including administrators, students and even faculty members. Thus it was no surprise that courses classified under the name ippan-kyouiku disappeared as soon as the requirement was removed from the National Standards for Establishment of Universities in 1991. What remain in the curricula are now called “kyouyou-kyouiku (liberal education),” which is contented to be a parallel segment with specialized education rather than its preparatory stage. This recent development looks ironical in a wider context, however. In the coming age of universal higher education, the requirements for specialized education will have to be relaxed, with greater emphasis on general education throughout four years.
Academia is a social organization involving research, teaching, and social service as its substantial function. The society expects academia to make contribution to social development through research and training of labor force. Since such functions take place mainly in universities and colleges, the academic profession including faculty members such as professors, associate professors, lecturers, and assistants play critical roles in determining the relation between the society and academia. In this context it is particularly important to understand the values held among academics and their behavioral patterns. The particular point that attracts attention is how academics conceive their mission. It is important because the recent movements towards the market principle in the governmental policy and in institutional management may contradict with the practices and judgement dictated by the generally conceived mission among the academics. From this perspective, this paper examines various aspects of Japanese academic profession in international comparison. Particular attention will be paid to the logic of academic discipline which intrinsically defines academic work as well as academic profession and the priority attached to each specific mission by the academics. Through these observations, the particular nature of issues that higher education reform in Japan faces is examined.
Against the backdrop of the movements towards university reform, administration of higher education institutions has attracted attention in Japan. A few research have been undertaken on such subjects as academic leadership or faculty involvement. Little attention has been paid to administrative and clerical staff despite their critical roles in university administration. My paper aims at filling the void. University administration system in Japan is characterized by the power attached to the top layer (state or government) and to the bottom layer (academic oligarchy or faculty meeting). The middle layer (university president and its administrative staff) has been relatively weak compared with the US system. Because of this structure, Japanese universities and colleges have very few numbers of non-academic, professional and full-time staff engaged in administration. I analyzed how different constituencies conceived administrative staff and how the governmental regulations described the function of administrative staff. Also I analyzed the careers of the administrative staff at the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University. It showed that there are two typical career patterns - ones involving experiences at the Ministry of Education (Monbusho) and those without it. Educational qualifications are also varied, even though there are practically none with graduate degrees. In the near future, the growing complexity in administration will make it inevitable to expect more contribution from the administrative and clerical staff. In order to respond to such needs, training programs at graduate level will have to be developed.
This paper analyzes the articulation between higher school and university education in last 20 years. The history of standardized test for university admission started with JFSAT (Joint First-Stage Achievement Test) which was established following a recommendation by the Reform Committee of National University Admission. All national institutions and local public institutions joined in the scheme, but practically private universities did not join except one volunteer. Therefore, the JFSAT was practiced for selecting high achievers in highly selective universities in spite of the intention of the development of the JFSAT. The JFSAT was not an answer to the admission test for the age of the mass higher education. After eleven years, the scheme was taken over by NCT (National Center Test) in which a substantial number of private institutions joined. The scheme took the a la carte approach, where students were allowed to select a few subjects from a wide range. While it helped the system to accommodate a wide range of students, it created serious problems in adjusting scores across subjects which are quite different not only in the contents but also in the levels. Meanwhile , admission requirements of individual institutions became increasingly diverse since the mid-1980’s . Higher education institutions, faced with the decline of young population, started reducing the number of subjects in an effort to attract applicants. High schools, on the other hand, started relaxing their requirements for graduation. The combination of the two trends may result in less-balanced ability in basic subjects among entrants to higher education institutions. The issues will become more serious in the coming age of universal attendance in higher education.
This paper examines the nature of what I call the third revolution of higher education. The revolution, which began decades ago, is exerting increasing influence on the ideals and practices of institutions of higher education in many part of the world. Through this revolution, universities and colleges, like other modern organizations, are making dramatic efforts to reach out to their environment in order to cultivate networks, create business opportunities, and thus expand revenues. The shift is occurring because (1) the demand for the traditional activities of universities has peaked ; (2) society is interested in new types of knowledge products relative to those traditionally supplied by universities and (3) there are new competitors, other than the established universities, that are asserting their ability to supply these products. Such a shift can lead to many changes in higher education institutions including addition of outreach actors and offices, recruitment of faculty with real-life experiences, changes in the curriculum, changes in the nature of research, changes in pricing practices, enhancement of faculty development, changes in work and workload of faculty members and changes in wage, promotions and tenure. It is important for higher education research not to lose sight of this global shift.