Local Human Resource Development Policies of Japanese Universities: From the Perspective of High School Students Desire for University Education
For regional universities in Japan (especially national ones), the question of whether local human resource development should be their highest priority has historically been considered to be taboo. This is because the ideal model for regional national universities was a global research institution such as the University of Tokyo, and they did not have a strong interest in conducting regionally limited education and research. This ideal model persisted even after the 1980s when regional national universities proposed new activities, such as academic-industrial collaboration and lifelong learning, for residents in the region. However, by around 2010, Japan’s rapidly declining birth rate and aging population caused its overall population to decline, the effects of which quickly became evident. As a result, regional universities’ local contributions became an important policy issue. In fact, in 2013, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) launched the ‘Centre of Community Project’ (COC Project), which allocated time-limited subsidies to selected ‘universities that will become the core of regional revitalisation’. Since 2015, the project has developed into the ‘Promotion for Regional Creation by the Centre of Community Project’ (COC+ Project), and the selected institutions now strive to reform entrance examinations, education, and employment support aimed at specific numerical targets for local human resource development (targets such as increasing the percentage of graduates who work within the region where the institution is located from 20% to 40%).