Hojinka 法人化 at National Universities in Japan - what will change in April 2004?

From April 2004, all national universities in Japan will become independent administrative bodies. That means that there are quite a few changes. The following are the changes that I know of. The information was recieved from a seminar organized by the DAAD Tokyo office (German Academic Exchange Service) in November 2003, whom I thank very much.

1. Budget

All universities will recieve a lump sum for their budget, and they can use it as they want, for personnel costs, books, research material, travel and so on. The sum for fiscal 2004 will be as high as 2002, but for later years the sum is not guaranteed. It is widely expected that the sum will be slowly reduced over the years, and universities will have to look for other sources of income. (Note: Many other public agencies/units have been transformed in the last years, and in every case their budget was reduced.)
The ministry should not interfere with the university about the usage of the budget, but it is yet unclear how much paperwork will have to be done.

If universities need money to build or renew buildings, they can normally not pay for that with their normal budget. They then have to apply at the ministry for an extra budget. Money from that budget cannot however be spent freely, but one must keep exactly to the plan drawn up for this extra budget. This is traditional even for private universities which get Monbusho support for new facilities.

2. 6-year-plan

The ministry sets goals for every university, and after that the university has to use these goals to make a 6-year-plan about research and education. This plan is then approved by the ministry, and evaluated after 6 years. It is expected that the budget allocation after 2010 will be largely dependent on the result of this evaluation.

3. Strong Leadership

The president of each university will have stronger power than now. The kyojukai and other committees will remain as they are, but there will be a new board which will be responsible for all decisions headed by the president. One will have to see how the traditionally very strong position of the kyojukai and the deans of the faculties will be affected. There have been voices about a "dictatorship", but it seems unlikely that universities will leave the normal way of decision-making processes in Japan's consensus-based society.

4. Foreign Employees

Many foreigners have so far been employed with the status of "gaikokujin-kyoshi" 外国人教師 (foreign lecturer), meaning working only a one-year-contract (renewable), but with a higher salary than a comparable Japanese and other amenities (free flight back home every three years, cheap accomodation). Until now, the salary of these foreigners has been paid for through a special budget at the ministry. From 2004, it will be included in the university's total budget, and the university can decide itself how to use it. It seems likely that salary and other costs will be brought down to the levels that Japanese employees have; however an advantage is that the length of the contract does not have to be one year anymore.
For those foreigners that have been employed on a permanent post, there will be no changes.

This information is correct to the best of my knowledge but no responsibility can be taken for an errors.

Oliver Mayer, 12 November 2003.

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