Office of the President
Concerning the Time of Enrollment
Comment from the President following the report from the "Committee for Considering the Timing of University Entrance".
I have recently received the report from the Committee for Considering the Timing of University Entrance. I would like to thank Executive Vice President Shimizu who acted as chairman and all the other committee members for their wide-ranging and detailed examination of the issue. This is a broad topic and, in this era of rapid globalization, one of great significance for the future of the University of Tokyo and of Japanese society as a whole. Having received this report, reform of the education system to nurture a "more resilient, more global" student will now progress to the next stage.
The timing of enrollment was actively debated both within and outside of the University during this period of consultation. Regardless of each individual's stance, it is widely shared that education reform, and particularly globalization of the education system, is an urgent matter. To receive so many opinions regarding the committee's interim report, not just from academics but from students and administrative staff as well, is unprecedented within the University. Furthermore, it was very heartening to find among those comments many constructive criticisms, proof of the free and vital nature of the academic community at the University of Tokyo. I believe that the important point is that if matters are proven to need reform, it is necessary promptly to put changes in motion without becoming mired in discussion, whether within or outside of the University, nor to take the existence of obstacles as an easy excuse for not proceeding.
I have said repeatedly that autumn enrollment is neither the sole aim of reform, nor a panacea. The reason this topic draws so much attention is that in addition to being a method of bringing about university globalization, it acts as a symbol of comprehensive education reform. But as well as university reform, it bears a message at the same time of the need for a more drastic reform of the structure and mindset of society. As I mentioned during my undergraduate commencement ceremony address, it is clear that irrespective of one's stance towards autumn enrollment, with Japan's economic and social strength waning and questions being raised about the ability of Japan's youth to function efficiently on the global stage, there is a common awareness of this being the last chance for education reform.
The topic of autumn enrollment adds to the sense of urgency required to speed up reform by drastically reviewing the state of various areas of education. It is necessary to develop comprehensive education reform without let-up, keeping the change in the time of enrollment as the centre of traction while making the necessary efforts to bring about reform, and at the same time further intensifying discussion on the change to the time of enrollment and how to overcome associated problems. As long as universities sincerely tackle the issue of globalization, the significance of autumn enrollment will naturally become apparent in the process of comprehensive education reform.
On this basis I will be setting up a new committee in the early part of the forthcoming academic year to carry on the work of the Committee for Considering the Timing of University Entrance. The remit of the incoming committee will be to deepen consideration of autumn enrollment in concert with related education reform, to proceed with verifiable actions such as incorporating successful programs promoting meaningful student experiences, and to implement individual reforms as and when they become possible. I would like to request broad understanding and support from within and outside of the University in order to make sure and steady progress.
29 March 2012
The University of Tokyo
President Junichi Hamada