JIN-305 -- Japanese Universities Pin Hopes on Chinese Students

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Issue No. 305
Friday January 21, 2005 TOKYO

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@@ VIEWPOINT: Japanese Universities Pin Hopes on Chinese Students

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@@ VIEWPOINT: Japanese Universities Pin Hopes on Chinese Students

Every parent scrutinizes an infant child for signs of
precocity, listening to initial utterances with the
intensity of priests hearkening to the oracle at Delphi,
hoping to discern signs of preternatural intelligence.
The utterances become words, the words form sentences.
The child asks for Pokemon or another toy of the moment.
This banality disappoints. Their child does not seem
bound for the University of Tokyo, the most prestigious
institution in this land where academic credentials
carry their weight in gold.

But a child born today perhaps has the greatest chance
ever of matriculation at Tokyo or another brand-name
university. The reason is that competition among junior
and four-year colleges for students will intensify with
the dawn in 2007 of an era of open admission as the number
of applicants reaches par with number of those accepted.

Thus Japanese universities are expanding their presences
in China in different ways but with perhaps the single goal
of luring China's best and brightest students to their

One area of renewed endeavor by Japanese universities is
finding corporations as tenants for research space in
Chinese universities and undertaking with them joint
research. For example, Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd. has
begun with Beijing University sponsored research into
catalytic agents for production of plastics and drugs.
The research is set to begin in earnest at Hokkaido
University's Catalytic Chemical Research Center on the
Beijing University campus.

Sumitomo Chemical is manufacturing agricultural chemicals
in China. According to a spokesperson, "China lacks the
know-how to use people for R&D." But, since the level of
Chinese research has risen dramatically, the company
requested the center arrange for sponsored research. Explains
Tamotsu Takahashi, the center director, "Only universities
possess the knowledge of which researchers are top class and
of which researchers are suitable for which Japanese

A further example is Waseda University's establishment with
Beijing University of a joint office in Zhongguancun,
China's Silicon Valley, in the Haidian District on the west
side of the capital. Last October it established in the office
a joint research space with Toppan Printing Co., Ltd. It hopes
to attract two or three more Japanese companies.

The establishment of offices in China has the further goal of
landing top Chinese students for study in Japan. More than 10
Japanese universities have established offices in China to
that end. The hope is Chinese students will compensate for
enrollments liable to decline in tandem with the birthrate.
Japanese universities are already feeling the pinch. Their
foray into China is part of a survival strategy.

Nearly 70 percent of the 117,000 foreign students
(as of May '04) attending Japanese universities and
professional schools are from China. However, they would
not seem to be the cream of the crop.

"America gets all the best students," says Kazuhiko Takeuchi,
Director of the International Planning Office at Tokyo
University. "Todai is not well enough know to attract them."
Figures bear out Professor Takeuchi's lament. The University
of Tokyo had accepted 137 government-financed Chinese students
in the seven-year period through fiscal 2003. However, only
ten of that number were graduates of China's top three schools
--Tsinghua, Beijing, and Fudan universities. So the Beijing
office, as the university's first presence overseas, will have
as one of its important functions the provision of orientations
selling Todai to Chinese students.

Meanwhile, Waseda University will institute from September a
program under which Beijing University students can satisfy
graduation requirements for both universities during four years
of study in Japan. The goal of the program is to attract Chinese
students to Waseda.

Last year Kyushu University held a meeting to inaugurate annual
reunions of its former Chinese students. The Kyushu alumni serve
as a liaison bridge between Chinese students and the university.
Hitotsubashi University and Todai have already established alumni
organizations which they plan to use as a springboard for
consolidating their webs of personal connections in political
and financial circles.

There's hope for parents with aspirations for their children to
attend Tokyo University. As great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane
hill did come, Todai might come to them.

-- Burritt Sabin

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Written and edited by Burritt Sabin (editors2@japaninc.com)


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