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February 12, 2007

Educator gives UC Berkeley talk about higher education in Japan

June Gordon, associate professor of education, gave a talk at UC Berkeley on the challenges facing higher education in Japan to an audience including prominent Japanese educational officials. The event was hosted by the Center for Studies in Higher Education.

The February 1 talk, "Japanese Higher Education: A New Context for Survival," addressed the institutional and governmental changes attempting to keep higher education viable in Japan's rapidly evolving social, economic, and political context. 

"Institutionally, higher education is at a turning point, no longer serving the same purpose in relationship to the labor market as has traditionally been possible," said Gordon. Government reforms, intended to provide a new vision for higher education and to enhance quality, have further complicated the situation through increased privatization designed to increase efficiency and enhance international competitiveness, she said.

According to Gordon, while demographic changes have made higher education easier to access, students and parents are questioning its worth in the face of increased costs and uncertain employment prospects. She also discussed demands on faculty, inequality of access to higher education, and the prospects for international and immigrant students.

Japanese officials in the audience included a member of the Ministry of Education who is a visiting scholar at UCB, the regional director of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (comparable to the National Science Foundation), and other Japanese policy makers who are involved in the transformation of higher education in Japan.


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