About Tokyo Tech

Message for students in the COVID-19 era

June 1, 2020

Message for students in the COVID-19 era

Tokyo Tech President Kazuya Masu sends his words of appreciation to the students of the Institute, encouraging them to look to the future and continue embracing challenges.

To all Tokyo Tech students:

I would like to thank all the students of Tokyo Tech for staying home and staying safe amidst the novel coronavirus outbreak. On May 25, the Japanese government lifted the state of emergency in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture, the locations of Tokyo Tech’s campuses, but the situation remains uncertain. In order to protect you and your loved ones, the Institute continues to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of the Tokyo Tech community while supporting students as they strive to achieve their goals during this difficult time.

I admire you all for practicing sound judgment and patience at a time when we are facing various obstacles and restrictions. We are all in this together, and at this stage, I want to share with you some words so that we can navigate through this crisis together.

1. No student left behind despite financial difficulties during COVID-19

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been greater than many expected. Some students are struggling to pay for tuition and living expenses because their sources of income, for example from part-time jobs, have diminished. I fear that it has become increasingly difficult for certain students to maintain their university lives. To ensure these students get the urgent support they need, the Team Tokyo Tech Student Support Program was established in cooperation with the Tokyo Tech Alumni Association. This program, which is independent of support offered by the government and the Japan Student Services Organization, includes an emergency loan program and an extension of tuition payment deadlines. If you are experiencing difficulties, initially I would like to ask those students who are eligible for tuition exemption to apply for this emergency loan. Students in extreme financial hardship may then be exempt from repaying this loan. Tuition exemption for students who need to extend their enrollment period due to COVID-19 is also available. By working together and supporting each other, we can ensure that students in need can continue their studies and no one is left behind.

2. Despite the circumstances, aim to earn your degree in your intended completion period

I understand that many of you may feel that you will not be able to generate enough results to complete your degrees as originally planned. The samples, data, and documents that you expected to be available thanks to your hard work may not be complete. Even if you cannot immerse yourself in experiments, you can combine your flexibility and innovative ideas with the experience of your professors to devise simulations and calculations. Alternatively, try creating a completely novel approach to verify what can be said about past findings to enhance the discussions in your chosen field. There are many historical examples of groundbreaking discoveries and timeless masterpieces that were born during times of adversity. For example, it is said that some of Isaac Newton’s and William Shakespeare’s acclaimed achievements emerged under quarantine conditions caused by a plague outbreak in the late 16th century.

Despite the physical distancing, you can utilize this time to conduct more exhaustive discussions online with your academic supervisors and create outstanding final projects, dissertations, or theses that maximize your intellectual potential and creativity.

3. Co-create new Tokyo Tech-style lectures by collaborating with faculty members

Lectures involving a blackboard, chalk, and a teacher’s podium have been part of university teaching and learning for over a century. The current situation presents an opportunity for change, and offers each one of you a chance to contribute to new, redesigned lectures that provide academic stimulus while combating the spread of the novel coronavirus. Faculty members are constantly looking to improve their remote lectures, and your constructive opinions are always welcome. Let us work together to create and implement new Tokyo Tech-style lectures and innovative ways of learning that we can share with others.

4. Resume smarter, safer research activities

Research that requires physical presence at the Institute will gradually be implemented from June onwards, and rules that give due consideration to the safety of all will be established for these activities. When resuming research, it is extremely important to consider carefully our actions so we do not induce a second or third wave of infections. Conventional lab activities during which many students gather simultaneously will be difficult to conduct, and we will need to become accustomed to a new norm. When moving forward, we must reconsider our usage of time and space so we can establish an efficient Tokyo Tech style of research that minimizes the risk of infection.

5. Make your impact in the COVID-19 era

Traditionally, scientists and engineers have sought solutions that eliminate inconvenience and discontent. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought plenty of both to the world, but it may also be leading us to better times. You — the budding scientists and engineers of Tokyo Tech — can view this as a unique opportunity to seek out new challenges. This pandemic has changed lifestyles drastically, and discussions regarding life in the COVID-19 era are already under way. Your talent and flexibility, coupled with a solid knowledge of advanced science and technology, will allow you to create real impact as the world emerges from this crisis.

Finally, I want to reiterate that the safety of you and your loved ones is of the utmost importance. While keeping that foremost in our thoughts, we can continue to work together, remain determined, and move towards a better tomorrow as Team Tokyo Tech.

Thank you again for staying home and staying safe.

Sincerely,

Kazuya Masu
President, Tokyo Tech