Edited By Pavel Zgaga, Ulrich Teichler, Hans G. Schuetze and Andrä Wolter
Higher Education Reform: Why Did It Start and Has It Ended? An Analysis of the Japanese Case
The current higher education reform movement in Japan started in the early 1990s and has progressed greatly since then. Japan has introduced higher education reforms several times since its modern higher education system was created in the late 19th century, but the current reform is very different from the previous ones because 1) it is not only a country-wide, systemic reform but also a reform of individual institutions; 2) it is not only an administrative and managerial reform but also a reform to improve the quality of teaching and research in higher education institutions; and 3) it is an ever-growing reform that no one has been able to stop.
The political, economic, and social background of the current reform can be explained as follows: 1) the Cold War ended around 1990, changing the domestic political power balance as well as the world system and helping the Japanese government reform its higher education system much more easily than before; 2) the Bubble Economy in Japan collapsed in the same period and higher education institutions were forced to adapt to the new economic situation; 3) the eighteen-year-old population in Japan started to decline and thus many higher education institutions had to reform themselves to attract students, whose numbers might drastically decline in the near future posing a great threat to the existence of many institutions.
Another important reason for the reform was related to the adaptation to globalization, the emergence of a knowledge-based economy, and the growing influence...
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