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The academics and their institutional environment in Japan – A view from outside

In economically advanced countries around the world, a number of similar developments in higher education can be observed such as a substantial growth of enrolment rates and diversification over several decades and more recently internationalisation, a stronger role of management and competition, as well as growing expectations to be socially relevant. But the features of the academic profession remain country-specific. This paper examines the characteristics and potential future directions of higher education in the case of Japan from an outside perspective. Comparative surveys suggest that Japanese academics are strongly research-oriented, hard-working and producing large numbers of publications. The share of women among academics remains comparatively low. The number of doctoral awards and the number of junior staff positions is quite low, which results in only small teams around a single professor: a ‘chimney’ structure of academic careers and ‘inbreeding’. Japanese scholars are strongly internationally minded in term of knowledge acquisition, but student and staff mobility as well as international cooperation is limited. An increase of junior academic positions, encouragement of diverse institutional profiles, improvement of the quality of teaching and learning as well as socialising academics to become ‘international players’ might be the priorities of future reforms.


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Contemporary Japan


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