JAPAN'S FUKUI University of Technology has signed a memorandum of understanding with Nation University, after inking similar academic collaborations in China, South Korea and Vietnam.
Through these collaborations – which might include student and teacher exchanges, collaborative research activities, and cultural or sports events – the private university in the capital of Fukui prefecture aims to expand its student-recruiting base.
The university’s president, Professor Yotaro Morishima, recently signed the MoU with Nation University rector Assistant Professor Pongin Rakariyatham at the annual conference on Thailand’s higher education and development at Nation University’s Lampang campus.
Opining that the difficulty in picking up the Japanese language was possibly keeping Thai students from studying in Japan, teaching in both the Japanese and English languages is also covered in the MoU, Morishima said.
In the upcoming semester in April, Fukui University will introduce a Japanese-English programme for graduate students. It is also offering special tuition rates to attract international students. The new annual rates are 817,000 yen (Bt263,000) for first- and second-year students and 1.22 million yen for senior levels, compared with the 1.47 million yen paid by Japanese nationals, he said.
Even though Fukui University is focused on science and has earned a name in the field of engineering while Nation University is more arts-oriented, there are still some overlapping areas that could result in collaborative work and even enrolment of students in the future, Morishima said.
He added that with the world becoming borderless, Japanese universities need to cultivate human resources with expert knowledge and skills, and to achieve this, students will be given more chances to work and study with foreign students and scholars on campus.
Morishima also cited the heavy competition among the 700 public and private universities in Japan as well as the sharp drop in 18-year-olds in his country as some of the key reasons for Fukui University’s moves to branch out. The number of 18-year-olds in Japan stood at 1.98 million in 1993, has dropped to 1.23 million at present and is expected to fall further to 730,000 by 2043.
Apart from the competition and lack of young people, he said Japanese businesses in Thailand also required highly skilled people who are fluent in Japanese.
According to 2012 statistics, only 2,167 or 1.6 per cent of foreign students in Japan were Thai, he said, adding that the highest number came from China – 86,324 students, or 63 per cent.
Morishima said Thailand should be a good source of student recruits, as Thais share several cultural attributes with the Japanese and should find it easy to live there.