Raising international awareness

Students report on globalization at Tokyo Tech

With its wealth of study-abroad programs and courses taught in English, Tokyo Tech belongs to the Top Type in the Top Global University Project.* Starting in 2019, graduate-major courses taught in English have expanded to cover subjects of specialization. The science and technology focus of Tokyo Tech leads to many opportunities for joint research with universities internationally, as well as for writing international scientific papers.

In this overview, students report on the international activities at Tokyo Tech today.


A program sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) that extends particular support to universities committed to internationalizing, through new initiatives that accelerate exchanges and alliances with top-level universities around the world and by enhancing organizations that urge development of global skills in students. Tokyo Tech has been appointed as one of the "Top Type" institutions or universities in Japan that have the capacity to be ranked in the Global Top 100.

In recent years, the numbers of international students at Tokyo Tech and the numbers of Tokyo Tech students sent abroad have increased markedly. Approximately 1,700 international students representing 84 countries and regions, including Asia and Europe, are arriving over the course of a year. Consequently, the campus itself provides an opportunity to meet people from all corners of our planet. In addition, through agreements with over 100 universities and institutions around the world, Tokyo Tech offers over 50 kinds of programs for studying abroad. There will certainly be a plan that meets the desires of any student looking for an opportunity.

Growth in Tokyo Tech students abroad as proportion of total student body (percentages)
Growth in Tokyo Tech students abroad as proportion
of total student body (percentages)

Growth in international students
Growth in international students

Global Distribution of Students from Abroad (as of May 1, 2018) *Source: Tokyo Tech Databook, other

Global Distribution of Students from Abroad (as of May 1, 2018)
*Source: Tokyo Tech Databook, other

Loh Zhan Teng (2nd-year, Transdisciplinary Science and Engineering / privately-funded international student from Malaysia)

Loh Zhan Teng

How did apply for study abroad?

I enrolled at Tokyo Tech as an international student on personal funds, starting with the first year of the bachelor's degree program. After graduation from high school and studying Japanese for three months in my own country, I came to Japan and studied the language intensively for one year. My efforts paid off and led to a perfect JLPT(Japanese-Language Proficiency Test)score with a little under one year of language study. Then I put efforts into taking the entrance exam by transferring to a special school tailored for entrance exams for international students. I then took the university entrance exam after one year of mainly science studies.

What prompted to you to come to Japan?

I watched Japanese TV dramas and animations since a young age and felt an attraction to the Japanese language. The destination for my study abroad came from a desire to learn the language and a lifestyle of speaking Japanese. Since I aimed to be a science major, the desire to study deeply led to selecting Japan, which is a technologically advanced nation.

What do you want to learn at Tokyo Tech?

The Department of Transdisciplinary Science and Engineering where I am majoring emphasizes the connections between science and society. I hope to learn how advanced technologies can be propagated among civilian uses and contribute to implementing technologies in society. Personally, I am interested in and studying about logistics and programming fields.

SAGE — Student Association for Global Exchange

This organization plans and runs events in concert with the international engagement offices and divisions at Tokyo Tech to increase opportunities for international exchange among Tokyo Tech students and to inform international students more about Tokyo Tech. Officially sanctioned as of Fiscal 2018, SAGE is now expanding its range of activities with a membership of 23, a group of 1st-year undergraduate to 1st-year graduate students including six international students. Three Japanese student members are currently on long-term study abroad. All members are interested in activities overseas.

Tokyo Orienteering held as the main event twice a year has always been a success. Groups of Japanese and international students score points in a game as they tour Tokyo sights.

In addition, a study program takes place every year in which university students from various Asian countries come to Tokyo Tech. During their one-week stay, the students visit private businesses and laboratories in accordance with the program’s theme. For the final project, groups present solutions to social issues.

Student Association for Global Exchange (SAGE)outer

Student Association for Global Exchange - SAGE | Tokyo Tech Global Stories | Global

SAGE — Student Association for Global Exchange

ACTION — Tokyo Tech Language Exchange Partner —


Tokyo Tech's ACTION is an organization, founded recently in the fall of 2018 and not sanctioned by the university, that runs a language partner program called "Tandem." In this partner program, two students studying different languages, such as a Japanese student studying English and an international student studying Japanese, are paired to teach each other language and practice conversation. ACTION recruits Tokyo Tech students interested in this program and matches partners, and also provides information useful for language learning. The program is looking to ramp up further to improve language skills among Tokyo Tech students and to promote understanding different cultures.

ACTION facebookouter

ACTION — Tokyo Tech Language Exchange Partner —

Check out the other student clubs and associations for international exchanges!

Kouhei Kamatani (2nd-year, Chemistry)

Kouhei Kamatani

What programs have you participated in up until now?

Last year I went to the UK in the spring under the extra short-term abroad program. I participated, because I was interested in a particular laboratory at a university outside Japan. My most memorable event was the evacuation alert that issued, when I boarded the underground, and then stopped the train service. I quickly went up above ground, even though the English announcement was not completely comprehensible to me. My shock might have been serious without the other Tokyo Tech students around me. I travel overseas frequently. Next summer, my travels will take me to India with an Indian person I became acquainted with at a curry restaurant.

Do you sense a global atmosphere emerging on campus?

Yes, in the sense that I see many international students these days. But the exchange between Japanese and international students seems much too small. And compared to other universities, Tokyo Tech students seem to struggle with English … (laughs). In that sense, Taki Plaza, soon to open, will have an important role, I think.

What is Taki Plaza?

This facility will open October 2020 on the Ookayama Campus to further the exchange between international and Japanese students. In an effort to incorporate student opinion, an event to discuss the utilization of Taki Plaza was held. I participated in the event that brought Japanese students and international students together.

TOEFL Preparation Seminar (Reading & Listening)

TOEFL Preparation Seminar (Reading & Listening)

In addition to required English language courses, Tokyo Tech offers a variety of classes for preparing for tests like TOEFL and TOEIC that are useful for study overseas and employment. Availability of these classes at the university is a benefit, because English ability can be sharpened on campus without taking classes externally. This particular class aims for enhancement of English language skills by surveying the test format and content of the various Reading and Writing sections that comprise TOEFL. The instructor, a native of the United Kingdom, issues a theme at each session for English writing practice. Submitted writing is corrected each time and returned the following week. This repeated pattern of composition work enables students to improve their writing—a process difficult to achieve solely through self-study. Each class has approximately 10 students. The small classroom consists of Japanese and international students, which means conversation is necessarily all in English. Thus, the entire course provides a concentrated dose of English. Students can improve English capability in preparation for TOEFL as well as for studying abroad.

The line-up of elective courses is diverse in response to preparing for study abroad and making academic presentations. Intensive language classes during the long academic breaks (English, German, French, Chinese) and English Café held during the noon break provide additional options.

In fact, international students are taking many subjects of specialization together with Japanese students. These classes create additional environments for improving language skills.

* This story was proposed and developed by Tokyo Tech students in 2018.


The Special Topics component of the Tokyo Tech Website shines a spotlight on recent developments in research and education, achievements of its community members, and special events and news from the Institute.

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Published : September 2019


Public Relations Division, Tokyo Institute of Technology