Japan's HE sector hears benefits of joint degrees

A senior member of the University of Sheffield made a presentation on how Japanese universities could promote organised and continuous cooperation, including double and joint degree programmes, at the Japanese Central Council for Education in Tokyo last week (Friday 23 October 2009).

The Minister of Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has asked the Central Council for Education to research and deliberate on the future of Higher Education in Japan, which could include ideas being put forward on how such programmes would work.

As a representative of British Higher Education, Professor Dominic Shellard, the University's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for External Affairs, was invited to give a UK perspective on joint degree programmes as part of a new working group. The group has been established to look specifically at the quality assurance framework in Japan, including deliberation on writing the guidelines for organized and continuous cooperation including double and joint degree programs.

The University of Sheffield was chosen to be part of the working group because of its long established relationship with Japan. Sheffield has been welcoming students from Japan for many decades and the first Japanese student graduated from the University in 1971. More recently, the University's concerted engagement with Japan continued with two alumni events held at the British Embassy and hosted by the British Ambassador, David Warren.

Professor Shellard said that although joint programmes were not without their challenges, these were far outweighed by their benefits. He added: "Joint degree programmes can present considerable opportunities to universities and students. By providing joint degrees, European universities are becoming more attractive to students, teachers and researchers from the rest of the world.

"With our long history of engagement, the University of Sheffield is now in an excellent position to capitalise on this wonderful new opportunity with Japan.

"We will be working with a number of top Japanese universities to establish joint degrees at undergraduate and postgraduate level to help further our international strategy and help the Japanese Government deliver on its stated aim of enhancing the international competitiveness of the second largest economy in the world."

Notes for Editors: The Japanese Central Council for Education is an organisation that carries out research and deliberations on important matters related to the promotion of education, lifelong learning, sports and other matters in response to requests from MEXT.

Professor Shellard was joined on his trip to Japan by Mr Tom Rhodes, Assistant Registrar in Learning and Teaching Services.

For further information please contact: Lindsey Bird, Media Relations Manager, on 0114 2225338 or email l.bird@sheffield.ac.uk