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From Chairperson

Message regarding my appointment as President of the Japan Association for College and University Education for fiscal years 2023 and 2024

Kayo Matsushita (Kyoto University)

  I am Kayo Matsushita, and I am delighted to announce my appointment as President of the Japan Association for College and University Education (JACUE) for the fiscal years 2023 and 2024. I have taken over from Reiko Yamada, who served as president for three terms. 

  Universities are currently facing significant challenges. In early June 2023, it was reported that there were 777,747 births in Japan in 2022, which is 40,875 fewer than the previous year. As a result, it is certain that the population of 18-year-olds will fall below 770,000 by 2041. In comparison, when second baby boomers were entering college in 1992, there were around 2.05 million people. This means that in just fifty years, the number of 18-year-olds will be reduced by nearly one-third. Due to this decline in population numbers, several universities have already had to cease accepting applications. The “Future Promotion Policies for Realization of Learner-Centered University Education” released by the University Subcommittee of the Central Council for Education in February outlines measures to prevent university failure and protect students in case withdrawal or failure becomes unavoidable.

  Additionally, generative AI is significantly impacting university education. Research conducted by a team of a Princeton University researcher and others indicates that teaching positions in humanities and social sciences comprise eight out of ten professions most susceptible to disruption by generative AI. In early June, it was also announced that a large online university will be established in Japan. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, online classes and education have become increasingly accessible.

  It is clear that declining birthrates and advancements in digital technology will fundamentally alter university education in future years. At the same time, it is certain that the quality of education at universities is being required more than ever before. Members of this association must be involved in some way in university education. Many members work towards enhancing university education and management at their respective institutions. To improve university education while remaining cognizant of macro trends affecting universities, I am committed to making this association not only a platform for sharing research findings on university education but also a forum for enhancing members’ research capabilities as well as exchanging concerns and joys related to our engagement with university education. 

  During the presidency of Masaaki Ogasawara, our association was reorganized as a general incorporated association. During Yamada’s presidency, we focused on improving our management system as a general incorporated association, creating the opportunities for enhancing members’ research capabilities, establishing research ethics standards, making our journal (Journal of Japan Association for College and University Education) open access, and revamping our website. Based on these efforts, I would like to describe our aspirations for this term. 

  First is the reform of the management system. The reform of teacher work practices has become a widely discussed topic and university faculty and staff are no exception to this trend. In addition to education and research, administration and social contribution also take up a lot of time and effort, leaving little space to devote to the management of the association. The Association comprises 52 delegates and 25 directors as well as an executive board that includes the president, vice president, managing directors, and secretariat. This term Hiroaki Sato was appointed as Vice President, Reiko Yamada, Yumiko Sugitani, and Toshiki Nakai as Managing Directors, Shohei Yamauchi as Secretariat Chief, Yusuke Horii as Assistant Secretariat Chief, and Yugo Saito as Secretary.

  As we approached various individuals to serve as Secretariat Chief, I was reminded once again of how complex and difficult managing the association has become and how busy university faculty and staff have become. In order to sustain and develop the association it is necessary to make the work of the association more efficient and to have as many members as possible take on these tasks. I ask for the cooperation of our members on various committees by serving as appointed reviewers for our journal and by assisting with organizing and implementing annual conferences and research project conferences. We are particularly interested in finding ways to reduce the burden on host universities and make it easier for them to host annual conferences and research project conferences on a rotating basis. We are considering continuing online hosting of research project conferences if desired by host universities.

  Second, I would like to strengthen our ability to disseminate our research findings internationally, which has been an issue for a long time. Although we made some progress in the last term by improving the English abstracts of our journal, the situation is still not satisfactory. We also need to review our cooperation with AAC&U (American Association of Colleges & Universities), which has been stagnant, and reevaluate our involvement in the International Forum on Liberal Education organized by the Korean Association of General Education and the Korean Council for University General Education. Former President Yamada will take the leadership of the committee on international relations as Executive Director in charge of its activities.

  In these challenging times for universities, I hope that we can develop activities that provide members with new insights, new connections, and renewed energy through their participation in this association. While prioritizing communication with our members board members and delegates, we will spearhead research and practice in university education as a sustainable and forward-thinking academic society.

  I hope that each member who participates in JACUE activities will contribute to making them more engaging and dynamic in their own unique way.

June 13, 2023