The Japan-UK higher education dialogue 2021: Opportunities and challenges for higher education collaboration in the new era held on July 20, 2021

 On July 20, 2021, The Japan Association of National Universities (JANU) and Universities UK co-hosted an online international conference for university presidents, vice-chancellors, etc., named “The Japan-UK higher education dialogue 2021: Opportunities and challenges for higher education collaboration in the new era.”

 Following the related events held in Tokyo in 2018 and the UK in 2019, this event was held to support fostering collaboration between Japanese and UK higher education institutions in the post-COVID era. As the first online international presidents’ conference by JANU, 39 executive members from 34 Japanese and UK universities participated to exchange opinions and share information, watched by 35 staff as audience.

 Dr. Caroline Benton, Vice President and Executive Director for Global Affairs, University of Tsukuba, moderated the dialogue.

 In the opening remarks, Dr. NAGATA Kyosuke, President of JANU (President of the University of Tsukuba), expressed his gratitude to those who attended the meeting and mentioned the history of exchange between the two organizations since the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in October 2016. He also stated that JANU is considering the desirable form of education, research, and international exchange in the future triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, expressing his hope that such a virtual event would lead to a deepening of mutual understanding and the creation of new partnerships even in the face of unprecedented global challenges.
Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, Universities UK President, Vice-Chancellor of Brunel University London, cited as the motivations to focus on the Japan-UK cooperation that, for example, higher education institutions in both countries are leaders in innovation, scientific discovery and technological advancement, and that investment in research and development is a priority for both governments in the long-term.

 Nextly, Ms. SATOMI Tomoka, Deputy Director-General, Higher Education Bureau, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), and Mr. David Sweeney, Executive Chair, Research England, gave opening remarks, followed by dialogue sessions by university presidents, vice-chancellors, etc. from both countries.
Session one focused on the theme of “Opportunities and challenges for universities: perspectives from Japan and the UK”, and Session two on “Supporting research collaboration and mobility exchange between Japan and the UK”. Using case study presentations from both Japan and the UK as input, breakout groups engaged in lively discussions based on the circumstances of each country and institution. The topics of discussion included “building mutual trust with multiple stakeholders,” “common due diligence in both countries,” “joint courses using online,” “benefits of hybrid learning discovered during the pandemic,” and “the need for sustainable funding.”

 Finally, in the closing remarks, Dr USHIKI Tatsuo, Chairperson of International Exchange Committee of JANU (President of Niigata University), stated that since Japanese national universities are currently asked to introduce initiatives that show the long-term value and social impact of universities to stakeholders, referring to the UK system, it is essential to exchange information and promote collaboration with UUK, Research England, and UK universities, and this conference could be its first step.
Ms. Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK International, mentioned the importance of expanding support from funding agencies, more inclusive and productive virtual exchanges, and providing exchange opportunities for postgraduate research students and early career researchers, considering that the UK government has placed international cooperation in research and in higher education right at the heart of its vision for the UK’s foreign relations in the post-Brexit era.

 After the conference, a one-on-one online networking session was held between the universities that had been matched in advance, seeking to strengthen the relationship.

 JANU will continue to promote efforts to further expand Japan-UK exchanges through cooperation with university organizations in the UK.

【Opening Remarks Slides】

  • Universitie UK International
    【Case Study Slides】
    Session One

  • Kobe University
  • University of Glasgow
    Session Two

  • Wakayama University
  • University of Derby