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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 June 10 - 16  > Education Ministry instructs national universities to reduce humanities and social science courses
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2015 June 10 - 16 [POLITICS]

Education Ministry instructs national universities to reduce humanities and social science courses

June 10, 2015
The Education Ministry on June 8 issued a notification and instruction to national universities to either terminate or reduce their courses in the humanities, social sciences, and in teacher training.

The notification shows that the national government seeks to favor universities and fields of study in accordance with demand from the business world and allocate more budgets to them and intends to abandon or greatly reduce academic research in the humanities.

Each university is to set its mid-term goal in light of the Education Ministry’s notification.

The notification stresses that national universities are expected to be competitive and generate “added value”. Citing the increasing demand for university graduates with an engineering or science degree, it argues that national universities should cut out humanities departments or turn them into ones which will better meet the needs of the society.

In addition, according to the notification, the state will provide a larger amount of subsidies to universities which are more willing to comply with the government directive.

However, studying humanities and social sciences plays an important role in critically thinking about and assessing the human condition and the society overall, as the Science Council of Japan, the representative body of Japanese scientists, argues.

If the government imposes a top-down reform on national universities that to date have various functions and features, it will go against not only the development of academic excellence, but also the true advance of Japanese society.
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