Welcome to this edition of the Japan Foundation Japanese Studies Survey. This report updates our 2007 survey, which itself built upon previous surveys in 2001-2 and 1996-7 conducted in partnership with the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation.
Since our last survey in 2007 there have been some significant developments within the Japanese Studies community here in the UK. Shortly after the publication of our last update, the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation announced a special Grant Programme to provide funding for the creation of 13 new teaching and research posts in Japanese Studies in 12 universities around the UK, which was a massive boost in response to the sense of crisis felt following the closure of Japanese Studies teaching at Durham and Stirling Universities. Also in the time since 2007, the Japan Foundation has also been striving to support staffing levels in Japanese Studies through the awarding of Staff Expansion Grants to the University of Sheffield, SOAS, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Newcastle and the University of East Anglia.
However, despite these positive steps forward, there still exists cause for concern about the health of Japanese Studies here in the UK given the seismic changes that are taking place in the funding of Higher Education institutions. Therefore, part of the purpose of this survey is to give an indication of what the situation is before the effects of these changes might start to be felt. Also in response to the increasing move towards viewing Higher Education as a market of student choices, we thought it would be useful to attempt to include the voice of Japanese Studies student within this survey - please see the new section of this website here
, which summarises the findings of the separate Japanese Studies Student Survey Report that we have produced. Generally this report tells a very positive story, revealing the deep enthusiasm of Japanese Studies students for their subject, and suggesting that this interest goes significantly beyond the much trumpeted lure of popular culture such as Anime and Manga into deeper appreciation of the Japanese language and traditional culture.
We hope these findings about the thoughts of students will be of use to everyone in the Japanese Studies community, alongside the benefits that will come from updating all of the practical information relating to all of the institutions teaching Japanese Studies that helps to preserve the reference function of the website for the survey. This website also tries to give as good a picture as possible about student number levels so as to attempt to measure the popularity of studying about Japan, although unfortunately a couple of significant problems still remain from the previous survey when trying to draw conclusions in these areas
1. different people at an institution filling in the survey according to different criteria, so that therefore any comparison can only be tentative, despite our best efforts to ensure that the information provided is consistent with the 2007 survey.
2. difficulty in obtaining responses from all institutions, especially relating to numbers of post - graduate students.
However, we still believe this update of the survey provides good grounds for saying that student numbers in Japanese Studies have been at least stable, if not increasing in the period since 2007. Of course these findings could be improved upon by a more rigorous academic study looking to measure the current state of the subject as part of quantifying the value of Japanese Studies for the UK as a whole. We hope that this update might serve as a good starting point for consultation with all our partners in the Japanese Studies community so as to move in this direction of providing solid evidence-based analysis of the importance of study in this area, something which could prove invaluable in maintaining the future health of the subject in the uncertain future ahead. Therefore we welcome your comments and feedback on the following, and hope that you will find plenty to stimulate and interest you as you read.
On the basis of the data and analysis shown via the links to the right, it is possible to make the following statements about trends in Student Numbers for Japanese Studies.
Category A: Students completing a module in Japanese Language or Japanese Studies
- continuing increase from 2007.
Category B: Students Graduating on Titled Japanese Degree Courses
- continuing increase from 2007
Category C: Students Graduating on Single Honours Japanese Studies
- continuing increase from 2007.
Category D: Postgraduate Students
- at least stable, if not continuing increase from 2007.
In welcoming further comments and consultation on this report, we would like to identify some further questions for investigation.
- now that the nature of the coming changes to Higher Education funding are starting to be confirmed, it will be important to monitor the effects these will have for the subject of Japanese Studies. For example, will the simple fact of increased tuition fees for students disproportionately discourage students from the 4-year course that is required for Japanese Studies compared to other courses that are completed in 3 years?
- in this new financial environment, what should be the corresponding changes in the role of funding bodies such as the Japan Foundation and other partners in the Japanese Studies community? Should there be co-ordination of resources and collective discussion and agreement about what might be the most important areas to prioritize?
- what will be the impact of the forthcoming Research Excellence Framework assessment in 2014 on Japanese Studies? Will the new system in place for this exercise discriminate against a smaller specialist subject such as Japanese Studies as some within the community have feared, and what measures can we take together to counter this if so?
- what is or should be the relationship between Japanese Studies as an Area Studies subject and the study of Japan within other academic disciplines? Would moving the study of Japan into diverse disciplinary areas help to insulate the subject from future funding uncertainty, or might this risk an undesirable dilution of the subject with accompanying worries about providing the necessary levels of language training required for high standards of research?
- what is the current environment for post-graduates in Japanese Studies in the UK, and are suitable measures for career development in place so as to provide the next generation of Japanese Studies researchers? To what extent is the potential employability of the current generation of post-graduate students working on Japan dependent on establishing the future viability of the field of Japanese Studies?
- how is it possible to establish and measure the value of the national interest for the UK in maintaining an academic body of knowledge about Japan?
- how does the situation of Japanese Studies in the UK compare with similar countries such as in Europe or other Anglophone countries? What lessons can be learned from looking at these experiences in other countries, and what potential is there to benefit from what might be unique about the UK?
We would welcome your contribution on these questions and any response you may have to this survey as a whole. Please contact Neil Cantwell, either by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
or by calling 020 7436 6695 to express your opinion.