W10 – Japanese Higher Education Governance

This readings talked about the governance of higher education and the different models and frameworks used in a number of countries, specifically Cambodia, Japan, China, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Having studied Japanese language and culture in high school and in college, I was interested in learning more about the governance of higher education in Japan.

The IIEP on governance reforms and university autonomy in Asia mentions the switch in Japan from a state controlled national university system to national university corporations in 2004, which increased institutional autonomy on various levels from organizational structure to the hiring of faculty and staff. After the switch, there was also a surge in private universities because the requirements to being recognized as a university in Japan were relaxed when reforms passed to change the national universities into national university corporations. In the same paper, professor emeritus of the University of Tokyo, Amano Ikuo, talks about the various trends that pushed Japan to reform and change its higher education system to the way it is today and the unique factors affecting Japan. It was interesting to learn about how the bubble economy burst at the beginning of the 1990s continues to have effects on the higher education system in Japan. This coincides with the intense round of reforms mentioned in the IIEP report how the Japanese government began to change the public universities to meet the knowledge economy demands, and there was also the formation of the various evaluation systems, ranging from self-evaluation in the beginning to ultimately the formation of a national evaluation agency (NIAD-UE).

One of the factors Amano Ikuo mentions in the his paper is the dramatic changes in population composition from 1980 to the present (which in the case of the paper was 2013). In the span of a decade, from 1980-1990, there was a sharp increase in the population of 18-year-olds from about 1.5 million to just over 2 million. This also led to an rapid increase in the formation of more universities to meet the demands (public universities also enjoyed pretty much a monopoly on higher education), but immediately after the initial decade, Japan experienced and continues to experience a decline or stagnation in the population of 18-year-olds, which resulted in the loss of enrollment and the struggle of the universities to change their ways of attracting and recruiting students. And with the switch in governance in 2004, the funding sources also changed and became more of a competition for research funding and public funding amongst all the various types of institutions. While it seemed like a good idea to make sure the institutions kept up their standards and quality, Amano Ikuo mentions that many of the institutions struggle to get enough funding and increasing turn towards conducting revenue-generating activities, which we’ve learn from previous classes could cause negative impacts on the quality of education offered.

Another thing mentioned by Amano Ikuo is the strive for internationalization and how Japan lags behind on that aspect, and in order to improve its global rankings, Japan has increasing put more emphasis on internationalization of its higher education system. Because Japan previously had a self-reliant system (or “closed” system) in terms of technological advances, this has caused the country to fall behind other OECD countries in joining the evermore globalized world and economy. This goes back to what was mentioned in a previous class discussion about Japan’s constant efforts to be a global hub for knowledge and technology, and how those efforts continue to fall short. Overall, Japan is admirable for its consistent efforts to ensure quality, but there is still much room for improvement if it wants to go up in the global rankings.

W10: Governance Reforms

In contrary to many countries, China moved away from a centralized higher education system to where the government will act a facilitator. It is interesting to see some countries finding that centralizing their systems while China felt it was better to just facilitate it from a government level. Thay also moved to cost sharing policy where students had to pay fees and also began to accept students who would pay for tuition fully by private sponsors. In China private higher education is a new idea as higher education was predominantly public and students did not contribute as much financially. In the reading , Vietnam is the poorest of the group that was observed in the study but one of the first to move toward private higher education which makes sense as they were looking for ways to increase revenue. They even moved to internationalization of higher education sooner than the other countries. To improve their higher education system they went through reform on curriculum and teaching methods. This reform was implemented in 1987 which is rather early compared to the other countried but have these reform plans set out until 2020 to increase enrollment and diversity through university research. As the smallest country in the study it seems that Vietnam had one of the most advanced thoughts in higher education. Cambodia spent aprtion of the 1990’s looking for qualified teaching staff to refill positions that were vacant due to foreign staff leaving. The same idea Vietnam included in their higher education policy, Camodia did in 2000 where fee paying and government sponsored students were allowed to enroll. I wonder if there was controversy due to the fact that not all the teachers were qualified to teach and if the reform hired enough to make the institution worthy of the tuition fee paying students and government sponsored students were paying. In the study Japan was the most successful in higher education out of the other countries. It is interesting to see that they are the only country that introduce a slef-evaluation and external evaluation systems to ensure that they are meeting the changing requirements. Japan finally had an accreditation system put in place for all higher education institutions by the NIAD-UE since 2004. Though all these countries are located in Asia they have had very different approaches in bettering their higher education system but were effected by their different economic-socio statuses. At this time each country had moved toward some form of evaluation for teaching and curriculum development. Economicaly, they have also moved toward allowing students to pay certain fees or tuition and have opened up to private higher education.

Week 10-Governance Reforms and Automony

This week we focused on university governance, reforms and autonomy in Asia, Europe and Latin America.  First, Global Trends in University Governance looks at how governments plan and direct their higher education sectors.  Second, Governance reforms and university autonomy in Asia examines the move towards autonomy and how it has played out in China, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Japan and Indonesia.  And again, comparative analysis was useful to see what works for one region or country may not work for another and that in the study of higher education internationalization, it is imperative to understand the diversity of geopolitical and socio-economic issues that intersect and interact.  For me personally, having worked at both public and private higher ed institutions, the concepts of autonomy and governance are interesting ones to consider.  I realized that the autonomy enjoyed by many American universities is not at all a universal concept but reading about recent governance trends toward autonomy was heartening but also tempered by better understanding what some of the challenges are through both readings.

The concepts of autonomy and academic freedom took center stage in this week’s readings and I think the connection between the two is important to understand in gaining an understanding of how higher education is different from other sectors and what makes it a unique sector to regulate.  In general, autonomy reforms serve to propagate that the notion that higher ed institutions should be free to manage their affairs.  The move from a state control model in many countries to a state supervising model bolsters the role of academic freedom for universities and colleges to be in charge of their own academic programs and developments as well as mission and vision.

Of course, there are growing pains we see with autonomy for countries that are trending from complete state controlled models.  It is clear that for less developed and more previously totalitarian regimes, governance reforms cannot be implemented in a vacuum and must take into context the historical context from which they are coming, such as Malaysia or Cambodia.  Japan, on the other hand, as a more developed country has been able to withstand the corporatization reforms of much less state control toward that of private, independent universities and colleges.

While full assessment of the impact of autonomy may be premature, it seems certain that the state supervisory model allows room for higher ed institutions to be more open to internationalization efforts such as cross-border partnerships and other market driven academic entrepreneurial intiatives.


W10: Universities Governance and Autonomy

The two readings for this week examined autonomy and governance in higher education. Over the past couple of years, countries are moving to have the public higher education institutions in their countries become less reliant on government involvement. In the reading authored by John Fielden, governance is defined as “all those structures, processes and activities that are involved in the planning and direction of the institutions and people working in tertiary education”.  His definition is encompasses the responsibilities of the administration in colleges and universities. The push for autonomy is twofold:  it will allow institutions to have the ability to compete on an international level and allow institutions to take on more financial responsibilities which will alleviate budgetary concerns for countries. Throughout this class the United States hasn’t been often used as an example with regards to international higher education but when dealing with autonomy and governance, we can look at the structure of the United States’ tertiary education for examples of how countries can move towards more autonomy for their colleges and universities.

The state control model and the state supervising model are two models that are being used by countries in regards to governing HEIs.  The first model involves the state government seeking control of the institutions and the second model, states monitor and regulate universities. Within the second model there are different levels of state involvement from semi-autonomous to completely independent. Whichever model is used depends on the country, it isn’t a “one size fits all” method. It is important to take into account private institutions and state involvement. Even though states don’t have direct authority with regards to private colleges or universities, the monetary aid or tax breaks that HEIs receive can enable states to become involved in private institutions. The question now, is that a good thing? If the state is able to ensure that private institutions main goal is the education of the student’s not financial benefits then I think states should have some involvement in private institutions.

The report by N.V. Varghese and Michaela Martin, compares the governance reforms in several Asian countries. It takes in account the governance issues that are discussed in the article by the World Bank. All of these countries have experienced swift growth/expansion in their higher education systems. Eventhough the countries varied in areas outside of higher education, with regards to the growth in HEIs they shared the same characteristics: privatization, revised programs, improved research facilities, etc. The rise of private HEIs in these countries because private institutions almost have no involvement from the state. An important factor with institutional autonomy that is highlighted in the article is the need to have strong institutional leaders. With a strong Board of Trustees and Presidents, institutions will be able to function well and govern themselves.

W10 – Governance, Institutional Autonomy, and Strategic Planning

In the article Governance reforms and university autonomy in Asia, Varghese and Martin examine the different reforms and policy approaches of five different Asian countries (Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, and Vietnam) chosen because they represent varying progress in academic and administrative autonomy reforms as well as encompassing different levels of economic development and average educational attainment.  For example, with a highly developed economy and educational enrollment rate, Japan’s higher education institutions already had a great deal of administrative autonomy.  Therefore, the reforms there focused on quality assurance and expanding industry partnerships.  Cambodia, a society with a low higher education gross enrollment rate (GER) of 7 percent in 2008, is not as far along in its path to autonomy, with only a select group of institutions transitioning to “Public Administrative Institutions” (PAIs) with limited ability to create new programs.

As demand for post-secondary education increases, it only makes sense that the types of students will be more diverse and will need different types of programs and institutions to accommodate their different needs.  This expansion will also put a strain on a central government with complete control of the higher education sector.  This results in policy shifts from direct central government control to a more hands off “state supervision” model.  Underlying all of these reforms is the idea that a successful higher education system influences economic development in a particular country and that increased institutional autonomy will give universities the freedom and flexibility to adapt and respond to specific regional needs.   This tendency toward using market forces to impact higher education leads to increased capacity and competitiveness.

Global Trends in University Governance by Fielden took a broader look at similar topics discussed in the first reading, such as the unsustainability of a diverse higher education system being fully financed by a central government and the subsequent move toward autonomy.  Fielden (2008) succinctly stated, “The basic principle behind institutional autonomy is that institutions operate better if they are in control of their own destiny” (p 18).  Different institutional approaches result in increased innovation and creativity that may not come about in a uniform system.  Additionally, institutions have incentives to improve and increase efficiency if they can benefit from any additional revenue.

One thing I thought was interesting in this reading specifically was the importance of strategic planning both on the national and institutional levels and how planning can be used as a tool for central ministries or buffer bodies to measure success of institutions in meeting their goals.  If there is a national strategic plan, institutions can incorporate those broader goals into their specific plans while adding initiatives that are unique to their institutional contexts.  Funding can be allocated by a central ministry based on the success of meeting the self-imposed goals of an institution.  We learned about the importance of effective strategic planning in the decentralized, highly autonomous context of the US, but it is also interesting to see how strategic plans are another method of monitoring and evaluation for countries where the government has more authority over higher education.