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Title: A qualitative study of higher education policy and practice in fostering global human resources in Japanese Higher Education Institutions
Author: Wang, M.
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2017
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This study examined and interpreted the lived experiences of Japanese and international university students with respect to the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology’s (MEXT) Project for Promotion of Global Human Resource Development. Since fiscal year 2013, MEXT has been implementing top-down policies to transform Japanese youth into global human resources (GHRs) who have foreign language skills, communication skills, an understanding of cultures based on a Japanese identity, and the drive to become global leaders (MEXT, 2015). MEXT’s goals are economically driven as Japan has been in a recession for the last few decades (Yonezawa, 2014). GHRs who can contribute to a knowledge-based economy are needed to raise the global reputation of Japanese higher education institutions (HEIs) and the political and economic importance of Japan in regional and global contexts (Olssen & Peters, 2005). The purpose of this study was to investigate possibilities for further alignment of government (macro) ethos on institutional (meso) activities and processes that impact the development of competencies on the student (micro) level (Knight, 1997). Given that much of the top-down policies have been targeted at improving the quantitative outcomes of student flows to and from Japan (Douglass & Edelstein, 2009; Yamada & Yamada, 2014), this study forges a new qualitative perspective on the micro level using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) as the methodological framework. Twelve Japanese students were engaged in focus group discussions and 10 international students were interviewed in accordance with the epistemological, ontological, and humanistic principles of IPA. Knight’s (1997) categories of ethos, processes, activities, and competencies framed the research questions and analyses of results.   The lived experiences of Japanese and non-Japanese university students were contextualized and interpreted using a double hermeneutics process of interpretation where students and the researcher co-interpreted (Wojnar & Swanson, 2007) the phenomenon of GHR development within a Japanese university. As Japanese and non-Japanese students were trying to make meaning of MEXT’s policies, they found themselves embracing a definition of GHR as individuals who exuded characteristics of ethnorelativist cosmopolites – individuals who had the capacity to accept pluralistic cultural realities as citizens of the world (Lee Olson & Kroeger, 2001). This study illustrates how stakeholders at various levels impact upon the internationalization of higher education strategies such as GHR development. Although MEXT’s top-down policies have been trickling down to the grassroots level, the results of this study show that policies of GHR development have not been inclusive of international students who lacked familiarity with the policies and had limited interaction with Japanese students. Moreover, Japanese students felt that the policies privileged Japanese students who were predestined to become GHRs. Thus, for MEXT’s policies to have a greater impact upon university students, the study suggests that further interaction between Japanese and international students be instigated. In short, cross-cultural opportunities within programs and curricula must be increased so that more Japanese and international students at the micro level could be motivated to pursue a lifelong journey that could result in them epitomizing their ideal GHR.
Supervisor: Gray, M. ; Willis, I. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral