The following is a comprehensive account of the remarkably robust exchange partnerships that the University of California system has with 10 universities in Japan. This material relates to many of the topics covered in the RoadMap and includes:
- An overview of the UCEAP-Japan partnerships, which have unusual balance in the numbers of U.S. and Japanese students going back and forth
- The student experience, both in Japan and California, with student reflections and videos
Internships, research, and service learning opportunities
- Discussion of UCEAP’s active, innovative efforts at academic or curricular integration, enabling UC students to receive credit toward their major for their study abroad experiences
- Detailed statistical analysis of trends in numbers of students and surveys of UC student interests in studying abroad in general and in Japan in specific.
The mission of the University of California Education Abroad Program is to equip UC students with the knowledge, understanding, and skills for work and life in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world.
Overview of UCEAP Partnerships
The University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) is the University of California’s system-wide study abroad program. UCEAP offers UC students a range of diverse academic opportunities throughout Japan. With ten universities partners located in Osaka, Sendai, Tokyo, and Tsuru, student exchange has been the foundation of our institutional relationships for more than 50 years. University of California is a U.S. leader in bilateral exchanges with institutions in Japan.
UCEAP partners with 10 universities in Japan, including internationally ranked institutions and recipients of the Japanese MEXT Super Global and Global 30 initiatives.
University of Tokyo
International Christian University
Meiji Gakuin University
UC and Japan university partnerships are remarkable for their parity: the majority of partnerships are based on 1:1 student exchange. UC headcount is higher, as UC students tend to participate in short-term programs while their Japanese counterparts study at UC for the full academic year.
The Student Experience
UC Students in Japan
Options for study range from intense Japanese language to immersive coursework in one’s undergraduate major, from special thematic studies to hands-on research with an international team. Students explore a new community and engage in valuable academic and professional training while becoming a global citizen. Many programs include academic classroom or laboratory learning in which UC students study alongside local and international students. The opportunity to engage in a year-long Japanese zemi seminar is one noted with pride by UC participants. Students also enjoy field trips and cultural activities that introduce them to many facets of Japanese culture such as traditional Japanese arts, visits to financial institutions, temples, and gardens of Japan, appreciation of Japanese film, opera, sumo, and lectures by professors and other experts.
The opportunity to engage in a year-long Japanese zemi seminar is one noted with pride by UC participants. Students also enjoy field trips and cultural activities that introduce them to many facets of Japanese culture such as traditional Japanese arts, visits to financial institutions, temples, and gardens of Japan, appreciation of Japanese film, opera, sumo, and lectures by professors and other experts.
“I took advantage of optional field trips provided by my professors. I never had a field trip during my 3 years at my home university and so it was really nice to be able to get to know my professors personally, thanks to the small class sizes.” – UC student studying at Keio University
“The undergraduate research program at Tohoku University is gorgeously streamlined. The quality of education I had in the lab qualifies as a unique experience.” – UC student studying at Tohoku University
“I really loved the program and the people involved in it. The staff at the exchange student center was extremely helpful and the tutor system is amazing. There were so many students who wanted to make friends with us as well. A fantastic program overall.” – UC student studying at Tsuru University
Japan Students at UC
Japan partner universities send students on year-long, semester and quarter immersion programs, as well as summer and language programs. UCEAP provides unique opportunities for students to participate in independent research projects, internships, laboratory and community service.
Inbound students create a culturally and economically diverse student population which internationalizes all ten UC campuses. Many inbound students later return to UC for graduate studies and contribute to UC research.
“My experience at UC Irvine will be my precious asset for the rest of my life. I had an experience that money cannot buy.” – Tohoku University student studying at UC
“One of my economics classes was taught by a professor who was a Nobel prize winner. Usually one cannot take such a class in Japan, so it was a very valuable experience for me.” – Keio University student studying at UC
“Spending time with my floor-mates [at UC housing] and sharing each other’s culture were some of the best times I’ve had in my life. I made many friends with whom I want to keep in touch forever.” – Meiji Gakuin University student studying at UC
Student Experience Media Resources
UC Students in Japan
In the video below, a UC student talks about their experience in Japan, immersive learning, housing, city life and more (2 min).
In the video below, students discuss the laboratory experience at Osaka and their decision to study in Japan for graduate school; food photos with credits (no sound); impact of study abroad on worldview; and life lessons from study abroad. The interview sound quality is poor, but the content and visuals encompass the UCEAP experience (4 min).
Japanese Students in California
KUWATA, Yuma Alexander – UG – Keio University – 2010-11 (Political Science)
YUI, Chiaki – UG – Meiji Gakuin University – 2010-11 (Global Studies)
Produced by UCSB Admissions for international recruitment purposes, this video (in Japanese) shows two reciprocity students from Japan sharing impressions of their student life, activities, parties and academics at UCSB. They talk about UCSB Global Studies and Environmental Studies programs. They share that their exchange experience has allowed them to live in the moment rather than focus on societal pressures (e.g., job hunting).
FUKASAWA, Mina – Keio University to Davis – 2014-15 – See quote from Mina, and exchange student on Facebook.
Photos courtesy of University of California Education Abroad Program
Internships, Research, and Service Learning Opportunities
Laboratory research programs promote the development of skills through hands-on research as a full member of an international team. At Osaka University, the University of Tokyo, and Tohoku University, UCEAP offers STEM students the opportunity for part- or full-time research internships. Research areas may include nanotechnology and molecular science, life science, biochemistry and biotechnology, systems and robotics, computing and information science, advanced material science, photon science, physics and astronomy, and other emerging fields.
A new spring/summer opportunity includes a community engagement and experiential learning program through International Christian University. This will offer students the opportunity to experience the Japanese work environment though placement in local schools, disaster relief agencies, community services and companies. Previous participants have also become part of US Embassy or consular teams.
Photos courtesy of University of California Education Abroad Program
Academic Integration (AI) initiatives aim to make study abroad a more accessible and integral component of the UC curricula. Students, parents, and administrators of study abroad share in the concern that participation in study abroad not delay a student’s progress or time needed to achieve an intended academic degree.
Because receiving credit towards their major is a primary concern of students going abroad, UCEAP took on two initiatives this year to promote the integration of our study abroad coursework with those of department curricula across our UC campuses. These initiatives are intended to enhance study abroad students’ ability to achieve an intended academic degree and graduate on time.
UCEAP Academic Integration Project with UC Campus Registrars
In one of the AI initiatives, UCEAP is collaborating with the UC Council of Registrars to obtain information regarding the types of academic credit that students received for courses they took abroad. The results of this will allow one to uncover if and how courses taken abroad applied to student degree requirements – with other details (see images below of the report & results page environment). Not only will advisors of students be better informed to help students make critical choices among the many options for study abroad in Japan, but the Academic Integration staff will be able to focus on areas of success or challenge in the application of coursework to student degree requirements. Additionally, UCEAP will be able to monitor and quantitatively determine the partner institutions that are able to provide pedagogy and curriculum that are of most value to UC students (credit in the Major) or other levels of degree credit (i.e., General Education Credits and Elective Credits).
In this project, we asked each of the campus’ Registrar team to merge data from two of their systems (student information system and degree audit system) for courses that our UCEAP students took abroad. UCEAP first piloted the project with the UCSB Registrar team for degree audit information on courses that our students took abroad for the last three academic years (2011-2014). Using this data, our UCEAP research team developed a user-friendly online module so that the user (i.e., faculty, UC academic advisors, and study abroad staff) can easily search through country, partner institution, program, course, major and degree audit fields. That is, the user would be able to see the type(s) of credit (major, elective in major, GE, etc.) already given to a particular course taken abroad at a particular international partner institution.
For illustrative purposes, we show here an online module that examines the types of academic credit UCSB students received from courses they took at our ten partner institutions from Japan. It is important to note that no information regarding student identification or grades is provided to the user. It can also be noted that the job we are requesting from each of the UC Campus Registrars is not a routine one and one that takes substantial time commitment. Hence, UCEAP is deeply appreciative of the UCSB Registrar team for embracing this project, dedicating significant time and resources, and paving the way for other campuses to follow.
Report & Results Panes of Registrar Pilot Data.
We are beginning to obtain such data from other UC undergraduate campuses and plan to then provide multi-campus course credit information back to each of the campuses. In this way, each campus can learn and benefit from one another. This information should make department course approvals a more efficient process, encourage departmental pre-approvals of UCEAP coursework for degree requirements and enable more students to participate in study abroad programs.
UCEAP Departmental Grants for Academic Integration
UCEAP placed a first-time call for grant proposals in Fall 2014 to promote the collaboration of departmental faculty and academic advisors in AI efforts across UC campuses. The AI initiative aimed to give 10 awards of $5,000 to academic departments across the UC system. The proposals were reviewed with respect to overall quality, relevancy to academic integration, and potential impact. The grant proposals awarded were innovative and varied across academic disciplines. For example, one project from UC Davis focused on course articulation for language courses across ten different language and literature departments. This course articulation project included examining the course alignment of Japanese language and culture courses taken at our partner institutions in Japan with those of the courses offered by the East Asian Languages & Culture at the Davis campus. Another project that was awarded supported the development of UC Irvine’s interdisciplinary program on international engineering which merges the campus’ German language and Engineering programs. For each project, faculty and staff advisors along with their campus study abroad office collaborate in the AI work with the UCEAP office available to provide guidance and assistance during the project phase.
For example, one project from UC Davis focused on course articulation for language courses across ten different language and literature departments. This course articulation project included examining the course alignment of Japanese language and culture courses taken at our partner institutions in Japan with those of the courses offered by the East Asian Languages & Culture at the Davis campus. Another project that was awarded supported the development of UC Irvine’s interdisciplinary program on international engineering which merges the campus’ German language and Engineering programs. For each project, faculty and staff advisors along with their campus study abroad office collaborate in the AI work with the UCEAP office available to provide guidance and assistance during the project phase.
UCEAP offers many scholarships and is committed to helping match students to the right scholarship opportunities for their needs and choice of program. We have increased the UCEAP Promise Awards to $1.5 million in 2015-16, which have helped us boost study abroad participation by groups traditionally underrepresented in study abroad, namely first-generation, transfer students, veterans, STEM majors and students with financial need. Currently 70% of our outbound students receive financial aid and 37% receive Pell Grants. In addition, 60% of UCEAP participants are members of a racial or ethnic minority group.
Statistical Analysis of Trends
Report on Japan Trends — Participation Trends
UCEAP Outbound Students
Since AY 2000-01, UCEAP’s Japan program participant headcount has improved from 98 students, peaking in AY 2008-09 in both headcount and market share of UCEAP total headcount (see Chart #1, below: n=242; ms=5.6%). More recently, participation in Japan has been recovering from the unfortunate AY 2010-11 Spring Term program suspension, which reduced AY 2010-11 enrollment by roughly 30%.
Chart #1: Japan Headcount Enrollment.
As the table below indicates, UCEAP participants in Japan are reflecting the larger trend of demand for programs in the summer term.
Table #1. Summer & Regular Year Participation.
Campus Advisor Survey
Unlike most countries of East Asia, according to our campus advisors –who are in frequent and deep contact with UC students — Japan enjoys “Strong” student interest. In fact, it is among the most impressive points of interest measured across more than 50 countries.
Table #2: Perceived Student Interest in East Asia.
Student Interest Survey
In the spring of 2014 UCEAP conducted a “Student Interest Survey” in which 5 UC campuses participated, resulting in responses from roughly 1,500 students who had not previously studied abroad and who expressed that they were open to study abroad during their academic career with the UC. Consistent with other data points, East Asia and Japan are relatively strong locations of student interest (see Table #3 below). As reported above our Campus Advisors found that Japan was the location in East Asia with the strongest student interest.
Table #3: Innate Student Interest in Select East Asia Countries.
In reaching a market of UC students, it is important to know what curriculum and pedagogy they value. As seen in Table #4, they perceive pedagogy in English of high value (rated Strongly) – as they don’t know Japanese well enough to pursue curriculum entirely in that language. Just as importantly, they perceive a need for alternative pedagogy (Internships), and for coursework that is focused on their academic major.
Table #4: Interest in Program Models, Pedagogy & Curriculum
Reciprocal Exchange Students
During the past 5 years, there was a decline in reciprocity students from Japan (∆=-42 or -28.2%). This decline is, in part, related to UCEAP’s suspension of programs due to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Table #5: Reciprocal Exchange by Full Time Equivalency (FTE), Headcount & Academic Year. Note most recent/current year can be incomplete.
Reciprocal Exchange Student Survey
UCEAP surveys our Reciprocal Exchange students each year. In the course of the last six years we have over 230 student responses from Japan participants. Aside from many logistical questions (e.g., student services, housing) we also ask these students about the value they find in coming to the UC. Results indicate that the reciprocity students believe they are able to contribute unique academic knowledge or perspectives to academic settings, campus events and campus organizations. Additionally, the vast majority of the respondents believe that their UC coursework will contribute to their degree and that they were able to enroll in opportunities unavailable at their home institution.Of additional interest is whether or not the opportunity to study for a limited period of time as a non-matriculating student has influenced exchange students to increase or expand their interest in the UC as a site for future graduate studies. Setting aside the 23% who identified as having no interest in graduate school after UCEAP, 75% of remaining respondents recognized an “Increased” interest in future studies at the UC. In short, UCEAP is an engine for deepening institutuional relationships.
Of additional interest is whether or not the opportunity to study for a limited period of time as a non-matriculating student has influenced exchange students to increase or expand their interest in the UC as a site for future graduate studies. Setting aside the 23% who identified as having no interest in graduate school after UCEAP, 75% of remaining respondents recognized an “Increased” interest in future studies at the UC. In short, UCEAP is an engine for deepening institutuional relationships.
Table #6: Japan Students & UC Graduate School Interest.
Hsiu-Zu Ho, Associate Dean
Gordon Schaeffer, Director of Research
Emily Graham, Research Analyst
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