Ja­pan Mulls Shifting Its Academic Year to Mimic the West

When Japan was hit by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March, casualties at the nation’s universities were mercifully low. The reason: Campuses were mostly empty as thousands of students were at home till April, when Japan’s academic year begins.

That’s been one of the few times when Ja­pan’s edu­ca­tion­al re­form­ers have ap­plaud­ed the spring start, which is widely seen as causing headaches. It puts the na­tion’s universities out of sync with most of the plan­et, huge­ly com­pli­cat­ing ex­changes, the hir­ing of for­eign facul­ty, and the re­cruit­ing of overseas students.

Few­er than 3 per­cent of stu­dents at Ja­pan’s most pres­ti­gious high­er-edu­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tion, the University of To­kyo, are from abroad, a long way be­hind top West­ern col­leges. Increasing that percentage requires bring­ing the ac­a­dem­ic cal­en­dar into line with else­where, says Ma­sa­ko Egawa, an executive vice president at the university. "In­ter­na­tion­al­iz­ing edu­ca­tion and re­search is a very, very high pri­or­i­ty for us, and we must bring Ja­pan in sync with oth­er coun­tries to a­chieve that."

Read the rest of the story: Ja­pan Mulls Shifting Its Academic Year to Get in Step With the West.