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Tenure Track Program

Waseda University is the first private university to receive support for "Promotion of Environmental Improvement for Independence of Young Researchers" activities under the 2007 Special Coordination Funds for Promoting Science and Technology provided by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). These activities aim to "implement a system, based on the Tenure Track Program*, that provides opportunities for young researchers to become active and self-reliant within a competitive environment at a research institution aiming to become an international research base in order to promote the improvement of the research environment to enable young researchers to conduct research independently"

In carrying out these activities, Waseda University has introduced the Tenure Track Program for researchers in science and engineering fields at the Waseda Institute for Advanced Study (hereinafter "the Institute"). A human resources system reform program will be implemented over a five-year period.

  • * Tenure Track Program
    A system of employment with a fixed term of appointment that allows young researchers to gain experience in a self-reliant research environment, becoming tenured (full-time) following strict review.

Program Objectives

The program has three main objectives in aiming for human resource system reform.

  • (1)Training and nurturing of young researchers who will become core to this University.
  • (2)Rejuvenation of the university's overall human resource training system.
  • (3)Opening up of cutting edge research fields.

Waseda University's Mission : Outline of the Human Resources System Reform

Waseda University established the Institute as a place to nurture young researchers independent of existing research and education institutions, setting about creating an environment that would allow young researchers to think freely and carry out cutting-edge research in a range of disciplines for a certain fixed period. However, the existing system did not guarantee future tenure for researchers, and so it was decided that a new personnel system needed to be implemented in the future to enable young researchers to have a clear goal for the future, enabling them to dedicate themselves to self-reliant research while at the same time acquiring the skills necessary for teaching. As part of this program, a Science and Engineering Tenure Track Program has been implemented at the Institute, a new tenure recruitment system created as part of Waseda University’s training program for young researchers. This new program is intended to train and nurture young researchers while also opening up cutting-edge research fields. The program is further expected to facilitate reform of the human resource training system and contribute to staff mobility. Waseda University is engaging in this program to foster researchers who will form the core of future research at Waseda University. The main focus is presently on the science and engineering fields, but the intention is eventually to make broad use of the program on a university-wide basis.

Program Implementation System

The Institute is an organization overseen by a Director appointed by the President of Waseda University. Decisions pertaining to the institute are made by a Management Committee headed by the Director. A separate Tenure Track Steering Committee has been formed within the Personnel Committee, which is placed under the Management Committee, to carry out Tenure Track Program operations in general, including the hiring of research staff and evaluations of their performances. The selection of researchers for hire requires sophisticated, multifaceted evaluations. A working group (WG) will therefore be set up for every applicant's field, made up of researchers and others specializing in that particular field, to conduct initial selections. Mid-term and final evaluations require an extremely high degree of professionalism, and similar WG composed of research specialists and others will therefore be set up to evaluate the research performance and conduct reviews of the researchers.

Program Implementation

The program is based at the Institute, which operates independently of existing research and education institutions; through cooperation with the Faculty of Science and Engineering is working to improve the research environment to enable young researchers to pursue research in a self-reliant environment as Tenure Track Researchers. Young researchers are provided with sufficient research expenses and an independent research space; also provided is a research environment that includes shared equipment and the assistance of mentors, advisors, and administrative staff. In order to acquire the teaching skills required by faculty members, these researchers will be given opportunities to gain experience as educators by holding classes and serving as research advisers in undergraduate departments and graduate schools related to their own specialties. Beyond that, they will also be provided opportunities to take advantage of the distinctive breadth of a university of this kind by advising students in courses that are open to humanities departments and in seminars offered by "theme colleges," thus acquiring broad teaching experience with students outside their specialties, as well.

Implementation Process

(1) Recruitment and Hiring of Tenure Track Researchers
As a general rule, young researchers with a doctorate obtained within the past 10 years are eligible to apply for the tenure track program. Recruitment is international and successful applicants pursue research at the Institute for a maximum of five years as Tenure Track Researchers. Selection involves document review and interviews performed by experts in the candidate's field and other fields and successful applicants are chosen by the Personnel Committee.
(2) Concrete Objective for the Third Year of the Program Term
In the mid-term, or third year of the program, Tenure Track Researchers are assessed for their suitability to continue in the program. This entails explicit statement of the criteria for final evaluation and its terminal point. In cases where continuation appears unlikely, the researchers are also given encouragement in career formation elsewhere, including other universities, private enterprise, and other such external institutions.
(3) Concrete Objective for Completion of the Program Term
At the end of the fifth and final year of the program, the Tenure Track Researchers are to be judged for tenure at Waseda University on final evaluation. Moreover, the university is aiming for a 100% employment rate for Tenure Track Researchers, with support given to those who do not become Waseda University faculty, in establishing their careers, including finding positions at other universities, in private enterprise, or other such external institutions.

Evaluation Process