A new fiscal and academic year has begun. At last.

From January to March, many of the Japan-related staff I know at universities around the world received visits from Japanese university delegations. (Who can guess why?)

But many private firms doing internationalization-related work were also kept extremely busy by Japanese universities: acquaintances of mine working at printing companies, for example, said they were inundated by orders for foreign language brochures. Freelance Japanese-English translators complained (gratefully) that they were kept busy around the clock translating all kinds of university documents, from regulations to student health questionnaires. “What is it about Japanese universities?”, one translator asked me, “do they deliberately save up all their international projects for the end of the fiscal year, or do they just have a lot of money to spend then?”. I suspect that those two possibilities are closely interlinked!


I know that the end of the next fiscal year is still a long way off, but for what it’s worth, here are a couple of suggestions for other ways that internationalization budgets could be used up next time:

  • Instead of going on fact-finding visits to universities overseas: Do some initial research prospective partners based on shared institutional characteristics, policies, and interests. Start by benchmarking with a view to partnerships later. Conduct some qualitative surveys of international student and faculty experiences beyond the usual questionnaire evaluation format: in-depth, holistic case studies on student experiences, for example.
  • Instead of translating anything and everything: Do an assessment of foreign language needs on campus, and use the results to devise strategies and policies on language diversity. Get some professionals to rewrite foreign language materials that have been translated too hastily in the past. Draft more detailed and informative orientation materials and manuals for new faculty members recruited from outside Japan.

Any other suggestions?

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