University officials warn of “a crisis here and now” at the progressively impoverished national universities: “They want us to donate from our retirement funds… | FRIDAY DIGITAL

University officials warn of “a crisis here and now” at the progressively impoverished national universities: “They want us to donate from our retirement funds…

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LINE

Why are universities in financial difficulty…

It has been a long time since we heard of “university poverty.”

Last year, the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music made headlines for removing and selling the pianos in its practice rooms due to soaring utility costs. The national university where my daughter attended frequently received requests for donations for the parents of students, and the national university from which I graduated had a private vocational school on its premises before I knew it.

Upon further investigation, it appears that national universities have been able to lease land since FY2006 due to deregulation, and various universities such as the University of Tokyo, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Nagasaki University, Kyushu University, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, and Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology have been promoting various ways to utilize the land, such as parking lots, offices, and senior citizen homes. While this sounds good, it probably means that they are in such financial difficulty that they are forced to rely on rent income.

It is true that the birthrate is declining and getting worse. However, tuition at national universities is now over 600,000 yen per year, whereas it was around 400,000 yen per year when I was a university student in the early 1990s. With wages not rising at all and tuition at national universities continuing to rise, why are universities in financial difficulty?

When we asked the “University Forum,” which seeks ways to overcome the crisis facing universities and takes action, to conduct an interview, Professor A of the University of Tokyo, Associate Professor B of Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Associate Professor C of Tottori University, and Administrative Staff D of a national university in Tokyo responded to our request. What they told us was a story of a disturbing future in which everyone could be involved, whether they went to college or not, whether they had children or not.

The University of Tokyo is also planning to build hotels, condominiums, and nursing homes at its Shirokanedai (Minato-ku, Tokyo) and Mejirodai (Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo) campuses (PHOTO: AFLO)

Even retiring teachers are asked to donate from their retirement funds…

The request to donate is not only to the parents of the students, but also to us faculty members who receive salaries from the university.

Donations are used to pay for university facilities, student scholarships, international student support, etc. I agree with the purpose of the donation, and I donate to the university.

But that is what European universities, for example, are doing through the European Social Fund of the European Union, so why do they rely on donations? I think it is a good idea. Moreover, if they are paid enough to donate, it is because the budget of the entire university is being cut,” said Professor A. “I don’t know if the retiring professors also receive severance pay, but they do.

Professor A said, “Even though we give severance pay to retiring professors, they ask us to donate from our severance pay. Some people donate 100,000 yen or 1,000,000 yen, and their name plates are put on the wall.

Grants being reduced every year

It is not uncommon for the retirement allowance itself to be about 5 million yen less than it used to be. There have been cases of people who were planning to pay off the mortgage on their own homes with their retirement benefits, but ended up selling their homes.

Since when and why are universities becoming poorer?

It started in 2004, when the national universities were incorporated and the efficiency coefficient was applied to them as a necessity to impose management improvement,” said Associate Professor C.

Associate Professor C. “Everyone tends to think it is the Ministry of Education, but the Ministry of Education is also in trouble, and the problem is the Ministry of Finance.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) knows long ago that there is no basis for the 1% reduction and that it is impossible to improve efficiency.

If you reduce the budget by 1% and output is also reduced by 1%, that is not efficiency. The current situation is that by slimming down national universities, the output is also slimming down.

What is a “profitable university”? “In fact, patents don’t make any money at all.

When the government first came up with the idea of “profitable universities,” there was a lot of criticism, but I did not expect it to be about making a few coins by leasing land to the private sector. In fact, what is an “earning university”?

The original theme of the “profitable university” was to make money through research. But in fact, they are not making any money at all from patents.

At first, the university was also trying to earn money by obtaining a lot of patents, but the situation has become such that expenses are higher because patents cannot be maintained without paying registration fees, and recently we have been told to be very selective when obtaining patents.

As for the subject matter, they say that they will get paid for joint research with a company, or that they will develop a product through joint research and sell it in a venture company, but there are only a very few successful examples. However, only a small percentage of them are successful, and since there are many unsuccessful cases behind them, I don’t think they are making any money at all in total.

Patents are originally registered in large numbers, but you never know which of them will break through in the future, and most of them are kept in storage.

Even if some of them are utilized, many of them end up not being profitable.

If you aim for a light-emitting diode, you have to have a plan to pay for the 100 or 200 or so dollars that would otherwise be wasted.

Moreover, there is a match-pumping aspect to this project. I heard that a conglomerate company and others have set up a consulting group together with a national university.

When a national university provides consulting services, it sounds like it is intellectually superior and is likely to attract customers, but at the same time, they are told that they should not “put pressure on the private sector. But then they are told, “Don’t put pressure on the private sector. I don’t know what they are doing,” said Professor A.

So we can use graduate students cheaply under the guise of education…”

I wonder if “industry-government-academia collaboration” means that the private sector is eating away at academia. ……

When the bubble economy burst, private companies started closing their own research institutes. So, universities took over for them. Rather than having their own research centers, they give universities millions of yen to conduct research.

Graduate students are almost forced to work for free. Even so, they are able to make a somewhat richer living than before, so the universities accept it.

They can use graduate students cheaply under the guise of education. It must be very efficient for private carriers,” said Associate Professor B.

Incidentally, Professor A says that famous universities in the U.S. have large funds to which alumni have accumulated huge donations over the past 200 to 300 years, and the universities are enriched by these funds.

In Europe, graduate students are also paid and treated as researchers, adds Associate Professor B. “In both Europe and the U.S., graduate students are paid for their work,” he says.

In both Europe and the U.S., there are unions for graduate students. In Europe and the U.S., graduate students have unions, so they go on strike and have their salaries raised, but this is not the case in Japan. The way they are treated is fundamentally different” (Associate Professor B).

Decide the amount of money to be granted to universities based on the actual use of the miner card?

There was also a report that linked university attendance to the mynacard and that the amount of money given to universities was determined based on the actual use of the mynacard, which drew criticism. What happened to that in the end?

I spoke with someone from the Ministry of Education and Science, and he said that is not the case.

They said that if a national university writes in its mid-term management plan that it uses the miner card for attendance, the amount of the grant may be reduced if the university fails to achieve the goal.

However, in fact, almost all national universities are induced to write about the use of the miner card in their mid-term management plans. We have not yet reached the point where budget allocation is determined by the utilization rate of the miner card, but if we wanted to, we could do so at any time” (Mr. D).

Incidentally, Professor A gave us the following example of the point at which the increase or decrease in the amount of budget allocated to national universities is determined.

“First of all, they want to ‘increase the number of teachers on annual salaries.’ I think this is because the source of funds for retirement allowances will disappear in the future.

Another indicator is the percentage of young faculty members. For example, it seems to be set at 1 point for faculty members in their 30s, 0.5 points for those in their 40s, and 0 points for those in their 50s and above, and so on.

Then, as for globalization, the ratio of foreign students and the ratio of foreign faculty members. In addition, the University of Tokyo has a system whereby the university headquarters pays a portion of the cost of hiring female faculty members,” said Professor A.

“From ’16, the total budget of the university will not be reduced, and what was created instead is a system to reallocate the budget according to points such as the percentage of faculty members under 40 years of age.

For example, if the percentage of faculty members under 40 years old is reflected in the evaluation, it is possible in the future to cut the heads of tenured faculty members and faculty members over 40 years old and hire younger people,” said D.

‘We would give tenure to the younger ones so that we don’t have to hire them when they are over 40.

Universities have to operate without knowing how much budget they will receive next year, and it has already become the norm not to hire as many people as possible because they cannot secure personnel expenses. So we have to make do with part-time lecturers every year,” said Associate Professor C. “We have to renew male faculty members in their late 30s.

When they were deciding whether to renew a male faculty member in his late 30s, they said they would replace him with a female faculty member because a female faculty member would get points.

The utilization of women is a good thing in itself, but there are some cases where women are being misused as a way to replace their heads.

Why Chinese universities are growing in the world research rankings

At the end of last year, the amendment to the National University Corporation Law was passed and enacted, overcoming many objections. When asked what he feared would be the impact of this change, Professor A replied, “The incorporation of Japan’s national universities has originally been intended to increase the number of Chinese universities in the world.

The incorporation of Japan’s national universities was originally modeled on British universities, but I can only think of Chinese universities as the model for the revision of the National University Corporation Law.

In China, “secretaries,” who are like candidates for senior positions in the Chinese Communist Party, are dispatched to many places of work, including governments, schools, and companies. In each university, these secretaries hold down the heads of the president, chancellor, and president, and issue orders such as ‘do this research, do not do this research, and expel this faculty member.

The reason why Chinese universities are growing so much in the world research rankings I hear that the reason why Chinese universities are growing so much in the world research rankings is because they have created such scoring standards, and their secretaries are making plans to meet them.

However, Japan started out with the UK as a model, and now politicians are saying that we should learn from China, and are promoting a system design similar to that of China without considering the actual situation in Japan.

The biggest concern is that the Governing Council has the authority to make decisions on mid-term management plans, and it is highly likely that the Council will give orders without thinking, for example, to create new faculties and departments, or to conduct research in the trendy field of AI. Something similar is happening at Shimonoseki City University.

The head of a public university is the head of the local government, and once a decision is made by the council, it becomes the university’s policy, but the faculty members are confused when they are told to create a new department on an impulse. So such cases could happen here and there,” said Associate Professor C.

One such example is the Osaka Public University, established by Osaka Prefecture and Osaka City, which has come under much criticism for considering “official language English” and “introduction of fall admission.

If this trend continues, we will end up in a world where advanced brain labor is performed by Westerners and Chinese, and Japanese factory workers are forced to work endlessly as subcontractors…

In addition, Professor A points out the danger of state intervention in university personnel affairs.

In 2008, there was a problem with the selection of the presidents of the University of Tokyo and the University of Tsukuba.

In the case of the selection of the president of the University of Tokyo, the selection list was narrowed down to three candidates from among 11 names on the list, contrary to the preliminary vote of intention within the university, and even the rival candidate who was ranked first in the preliminary vote was explicitly eliminated.

The selection process was criticized by faculty members one after another for being opaque, and the chairperson of the selection committee resigned to take responsibility, but he has failed to provide an explanation. Apparently, the situation is the same as that of the Science Council,” said Professor A. “A similar problem took place at the end of last year.

A similar problem occurred in the election for the president of Chiba University held at the end of last year. It is still fresh in our minds that at the end of February, 14,280 signatures were submitted by student and alumni volunteers demanding an explanation of the issue, which professors and students protested on the grounds that the first place voted for by faculty members was not selected and that it was opaque.

What we need to be aware of is that this is not just a university or academic issue, but ultimately affects the lives of all of us.

I believe that the general public will feel that their tax dollars are being misused if they see the Science Council issue and the election of the president of the national university.”

Is it okay to decide the presidential election without regard to the score, while making it absolute that the person with one point more than the other will pass the exam? And.

If the poverty of universities continues at this rate, we may end up in a world where all the high-level brainwork is done by Westerners and Chinese, and Japanese factory workers are forced to work endlessly as subcontractors for the Westerners and Chinese. Would you enjoy such a future? In fact, we would not be able to manufacture cell phones without the help of South Korea and Taiwan, wouldn’t we?

Professor A.: “Although the news is all about soaring stock prices, everyone knows that Japan’s relative position in the world has declined. When it comes to how to resurface in such a situation, in the end, we have to rely on academics. Despite this, they tell universities not to waste their time and to do research more efficiently.

The drama “About the Crisis Here and Now and My Favorability” (’21, NHK Sogo) depicted a scandal at a prestigious university, but many people saw it not as a story of academia but of politics. The “here-and-now crisis” of controlling the media, seizing citizens’ personal information, and controlling universities is steadily advancing.

  • Interview and text by Wakako Takou

Photo Gallery1 total

Photo Selection

Check out the best photos for you.

Related Articles