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In Session: Managing Migration in Japan: Short-term Labour, Tourists, and International Students
2: Exit Through the Narrow Gate: Internationalizing Higher Education and International Graduates Employment in Japan
Monday, March 22, 2021
12:30pm – 2:00pm EDT
SUNY Old Westbury, United States
Employers and universities in Japan have been eyeing on international students as a key to revitalize the nation’s economy and higher education. Japan’s efforts in recruiting international students and increasing their “stay rate” have seen a limited success. Based on ethnographic research and policy document analysis, this paper identifies the discordance in the approach to international students across fields and argues that the institutional gap contributes to inefficiency in retaining foreign talents. On one hand, Japan’s academic internationalization, led by the MEXT, primarily focuses on raising the prominence of Japanese universities in the global academe and world rankings. Compliance with the global standard and the enhancement of research activities are critical to this initiative. Elite universities expanded English-based programs to recruit competitive international students and globalize Japanese students. On the other hand, the business sector posits international students as supplement to a shrinking Japanese labor force and coordinators between Japanese headquarters and overseas markets. As such, Japanese language proficiency and the adaptability to Japanese workplace are decisive factors in hiring decisions. Upon entering a post-graduation job market, international students from English-based degree programs find themselves caught between the Anglicized campus and predominantly Japanese-monolingual local employment opportunities. Student interviews revealed an arduous challenge of transitioning from a cosmopolitan college life to a domestic labor market.