Over the course of more than a decade, Waseda University has formulated the following initiatives and implemented various reforms: “21st Century Educational and Research Grand Design” and “Waseda Next 125.” A 10-year blueprint for the future of the university starting from 2008, the “Waseda Next 125” initiative outlined concrete measures leading up to the 2012 academic year. These measures were made available on the university website, under the “Board of Directors’ Basic Approach” page and the “Plans and Reports by Academic Year” page. Through “Waseda Next 125,” Waseda University aims to become more than just a Japanese university under the slogan “Transform Waseda from a Domestic Japanese University to a Global University.” Its goal is to become a global university by adopting the four courses of action outlined below.
- Building a foundation for knowledge in a global society of multicultural coexistence and integration
- Promoting interdisciplinary research by leveraging Waseda’s strengths
- Making every corner of the world a place of learning while nurturing global community leaders
- Establishing an international research center for Japanese and Asian cultures
In addition to developing programs aimed at attracting outstanding international students, degree programs offered in English have been established in the School of Political Science and Economics, the School of Fundamental Science and Engineering, the School of Creative Science and Engineering, the School of Advanced Science and Engineering, the School of Social Sciences, and the School of International Liberal Studies. We now have more than 4,000 international students studying at these schools. Having developed double degree programs and short-term study abroad programs in conjunction with various foreign universities, we have also given 2,399 Waseda students the opportunity to study abroad.
In the fields of basic education, we have expanded the Tutorial English program, where four students are taught per class, established the Writing Center to provide face-to-face instruction on writing papers and reports, established the Academic Writing program to improve Japanese writing skills, and established the Mathematics for 10,000 program for students in the humanities. In addition to enhancing its undergraduate and graduate schools with these programs, the university as a whole has implemented various reforms.
To support research, we have built a research system that goes beyond the boundaries of existing organizations by establishing research institutes and research strategy centers as cross-departmental organizations, creating core research initiatives, obtaining large-scale research funding, and promoting extramural collaborations. In addition, groups of highly skilled young researchers are steadily being formed, with newly established advanced research institutes and Global Centers of Excellence (Global COE) training and producing approximately 400 young researchers with advanced international research capabilities.
On reviewing the implementation status of the “Waseda Next 125” initiative, the Board of Directors decided to promote the continuous improvement of Waseda University’s educational and research capabilities while also strengthening its financial structure and organizational reforms to support these efforts. In line with this and based on the understanding described below, the university headquarters and each of the faculties spent about one year considering the university’s basic approach toward formulating the “Waseda Vision 150” initiative in December 2011. We have faced many challenges in carrying out this initiative, but we are steadily working toward its implementation.
Today, the planet faces a variety of problems (sustainability, peace, crisis management, etc.) due to a lack of established global governance. Given this, a key mission for universities is to focus on the multifaceted nature of globalization as well as the global, regional, national, and local levels of governance to implement a style of education and research based on identifying and solving problems.
Accelerated decline in the birth rate and working-age population
The population of 18-year-olds in Japan is predicted to decrease from the current level of 1.2 million to about 1 million by the year 2030. Furthermore, due to the country’s declining birthrate, the working-age population is expected to decline from the current level of 80 million to about 67 million by 2030. Meanwhile, the world’s population is expected to continue to increase at a dramatic rate during this time. These factors will lead to significant structural and institutional transformations throughout society as well as in the roles of universities and the human resources that they need to nurture. In light of this, it is crucial to consider the scales and organizational structures of universities as well as their teaching and research structures.
Competition among universities
The movement and intersection of human resources, knowledge, and information will accelerate on a global scale, and international competition among universities will intensify. Although Waseda University has established cooperative relationships with major universities around the world, a race between universities to differentiate themselves based on their strengths has begun. With Asia as its base, Waseda University is expected to secure a source of dynamism both in cooperation and in competition with universities in Japan and abroad to improve its educational and research capabilities. At the same time, competition between universities also involves a competition to develop systems and organizational reforms that enable policies to be formulated and implemented rapidly and accurately.
The advancement and spread of technologies, especially ICT, is bringing about major changes to the methodologies used in education and research. Examples of this include the use of hypertext educational materials, virtual reality (VR), simulation experiments, distance learning, on-demand classes, machine translation, and computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW). All of these technologies require new forms of both tangible and intangible infrastructure, but they are powerful tools in the globalization and advancement of education and research.
Creating the next phase for a nation of scientific and technological creation
It is crucial that we explore the next phase of nation-building based on science and technology. After all, we are entering an era where the standards of science and technology do not define the standards of a nation. We now need to think from a global perspective, including in fields that Japan has struggled with until now, such as social systems and management systems.
Disseminating Japanese and Asian culture around the world
Today’s world order is influenced by not only military and economic power, but also soft power, such as the power of cultural and social institutions. As we enter what is sometimes referred to as the “Asian century,” we need to rediscover the traditions and cultures of Japan and other Asian countries, and disseminate their advancements and foresight to the rest of the world.
Addressing the next phase of globalization
What issues are likely to be left unaddressed by the current advancement in globalization? As we enter an era of globalization that guarantees diversity within regions, we urgently need to respond to the next phase of societal development by leveraging the strengths of non-English speaking universities, such as by shifting from an English-centered curriculum to one focused more on multilingualism.
Organizational review of Waseda based on global standards
If we shift our focus from Japan to the rest of the world, we cannot guarantee our survival simply because we meet the criteria of the University Establishment Standards in Japan. Everything involved in operating a university must be reviewed from a new perspective—including the university’s student admissions, educational content, teaching methods, and educational organization—and the requisite reforms must be implemented. This is also true for the research, administrative, and management systems.
Radical reforms of Waseda’s financial structure
As a private university, we must ask ourselves whether the comparatively lax management mentality within the private sector is preventing us from making the necessary reforms since we rely on fees paid by students for much of our finances. Given that we are an academic institution, we must closely examine what we need to change and what we need to avoid changing to prepare ourselves for the reforms that will be needed in the next 20 years, before we find ourselves in a state of crisis.