About Tokyo Tech

Three years on - Interview with President Mishima

Implementing internationalization initiatives and reforms in education and research

Three years have passed since President Yoshinao Mishima's inauguration in October 2012. After being re-appointed as Tokyo Tech president for the April 2016 to March 2018 term, he talked about current Institute initiatives and his vision for the future.

Education reform

We are just six months away from the implementation of the new education system in April 2016. Please tell us about the education reform.

President Mishima

The reform will clearly demonstrate that the talented individuals Tokyo Tech produces contribute to the international community. Under the new system, proactive students will envision their future role in society and choose courses from broad curricula to expand their capabilities and realize their visions. In specifying and refining the details of the reform, standardized competencies and assessment methods will be implemented across the Institute in cooperation with the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL).

What are your thoughts on the Institute's internationalization initiatives — namely encouragement of study abroad, short overseas stay experiences, and continuing distance lectures?

Tokyo Tech will make all syllabi globally accessible online both in Japanese and English, and release education content so that credits are easily transferable between leading universities in the world. The Institute is also carrying out preparations for the acquisition of international accreditations along with the establishment of the new education system. Most major courses in the master's and doctoral degree programs will be conducted in English by the academic year 2018. Some basic courses in the bachelor's degree program will be taught by international faculty in English.

President Mishima

The Institute joined the edX massive open online course (MOOC) consortium founded jointly by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, and the first course will start in October 2015. This will help the Institute attract more international students, and will also provide current Tokyo Tech students with flipped learning opportunities to further deepen their understanding.

Under the new education system, both specialized and liberal arts courses are designed to incorporate substantial active learning approaches. At the Tokyo Tech Lecture Theatre, leading-edge researchers — both domestic and international — will give lectures which feature open experiments and debates.

The academic quarter system will give students more flexibility in their academic plans, making study abroad easier. The Institute offers a wide variety of programs, both short-and long-term, and all students are strongly recommended to study abroad.

Since the academic year 2014 you have actively exchanged opinions with students who organize student surveys and are interested in education reform. Who would you like to have dialogues with in the future?

I hope to engage in dialogue with students studying in all specialized fields and at all course levels. I will share their comments and requests regarding course content with CITL, and will respond to them in the form of professional development for faculty. Tokyo Tech continues to incorporate students' suggestions into the operation of the Institute.

Research reform

Discussions regarding research enhancement will be focused on reorganization of the Institute's research units and improvement of the research environment of faculty members. Basic outlines will be finalized by April 2016. Could you elaborate on the research reform?

President Mishima

Since students in the latter half of their bachelor's degree program and in the master's and doctoral degree programs will have more opportunities to be exposed to and take part in global-scale advanced research, enhancement of the faculty's research strengths through international collaborative research is important. The Institute will cut down on the burden of clerical duties for faculty, and will further promote joint research abroad through sabbaticals to secure more time for researchers to engage in research.

Tokyo Tech has long been at the forefront of research in fields such as materials and physics. The Institute will boost these fields and at the same time consolidate the system to develop new fields to meet the needs of the times. In this context, infusing new enthusiasm into Tokyo Tech by increasing mobility of Japanese and overseas researchers will be vital.

Both research and education are integral to universities. I will continue to put all my efforts into the Institute's reforms and internationalization initiatives.

The next 30 months

Lastly, what do you hope to accomplish in your third year and onward?

President Mishima

I hope to sense changes on campus and see an invigorated Institute by motivating students and faculty members through the implementation of internationalization initiatives and reforms. These reforms will be fine-tuned and adjusted without hesitation to ensure change for the better.

I am grateful to faculty and staff members who have put their backs into these reforms. I expect faculty to carry on making efforts so that students can continue to be fascinated by science and technology, and be motivated to learn in order to realize their aspirations.

Published: September 30, 2015