Leading university in Japan opens up more opportunities for top talents through education and research system reforms

Leading university in Japan opens up more opportunities for top talents through education and research system reforms

Tokyo Tech aims to cultivate science and engineering professionals who possess superior expertise and leadership skills, and who are able to contribute to global society. (Antara)

Creates flexible, conducive environment for top talents in Indonesia and more

TOKYO, March 22, 2016 (Antara/PRNewswire) -- Japan's leading science and engineering university – Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) will implement a new, flexible framework with the aim of creating a conducive environment for outstanding international students and researchers to gather from 1 April 2016. The university will be the first in Japan to integrate undergraduate and graduate schools, creating much more opportunities for cross-disciplinary projects and earlier involvement in graduate-level study and research.
"The goal is to help more of our graduates thrive in global societies and become the world's top researchers and leaders. We have to instill an inquisitive spirit and global mindset in our students as well as give them the tools, including a high level of English proficiency, for them to excel," said Dr. Yoshinao Mishima, President of Tokyo Tech.

The university, which also celebrates its 135th anniversary this year, has produced many high caliber international graduates. In the 2015 QS World University Rankings, Tokyo Tech was ranked 56th in the world and 3rd in Japan. Students from Indonesia made up 8.5% of all students who matriculated at Tokyo Tech last year; the second largest group among the Southeast Asian cohort. "As a university highly acclaimed for the quality of its graduates and for its diverse contributions to the local community, the nation and the world, Tokyo Institute of Technology strives towards being the world's best." said Mishima.

Key aspects of the educational system reform:

(1) Seamless transition between degree programs

The university's undergraduate and graduate departments will combine to form six schools, each with a wider range of fields and specializations: Science, Engineering, Materials and Chemical Technology, Computing, Life Science and Technology, Environment and Society. Students benefit from cross-disciplinary study as well as flexibility to acquire a broader fundamental knowledge in their early academic years before specializing in fields that match their interests and goals. Undergraduates who meet the predetermined criteria will also be able to take part in master's level courses and researches, allowing them to obtain their master's degree in as early as four years.

(2) Active learning and leadership-focused system

More lessons will be converted to the flipped classroom model with the introduction of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and Small Private Online Courses (SPOCs). A greater emphasis will be placed on group discussions, projects and presentations to encourage team-based and proactive learning. This new system has been meticulously designed to cultivate character traits such as initiative, critical thinking and leadership skills in students.

(3) Enhanced flexibility and opportunities for global exposure

To encourage international exchanges and learning, major courses under the graduate degree programs will be conducted in English, while the curricula will have improved compatibility with other top universities' to facilitate easier transfer of credits. Each academic year will also be divided into four shorter semesters, allowing students to have more flexible academic plans for their internships and overseas studies.

Key aspects of the research system reforms:

(1) Greater focus on cross-function and new research fields

The majority of the research functions at Tokyo Tech will be consolidated at the newly established Institute of Innovative Research (IIR) to enable cross-field collaborations and encourage the development of new research fields. Additionally, there will be ten new research units at IIR that will be comprised of small research teams focusing on cutting-edge research under the leadership of esteemed veterans. Examples of such units include the Cell Biology Unit led by Honorary Professor Yoshinori Ohsumi who has received the Canada Gairdner International Award; and the Global Hydrogen Energy Research Unit, which utilizes an industry-government-academia collaboration to research technical issues related to an international hydrogen supply chain.

(2) Expansion of research support system

Within the IIR, the World Research Hub Initiative (WRHI) will be implemented to support researchers of all nationalities and help them focus on their research. There will be an increase in the number of research support professionals to assist with administrative tasks such as securing funding and strengthening partnerships. Under this initiative, diversity and cross functional collaborations will also be actively promoted to establish a strong network of know-how sharing and cooperation between international researchers across labs.

For more information about the education system reform, please visit :http://www.titech.ac.jp/english/education/reform/

About Tokyo Institute of Technology

Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) is the top national university for science and technology in Japan with a history spanning more than 130 years. Of the approximately 10,000 students at the Ookayama, Suzukakedai, and Tamachi Campuses, half are in their bachelor's degree program while the other half are in master's and doctoral degree programs. There are 1,200 faculty and 600 administrative and technical staff members.

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