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MIZUKI Shodo "Let's Introduce Future-Oriented Education and University Business Instead of Maintaining the Status Quo where Part-Time Lecturers Are Suffering from Cost Reduction"

The Mainichi Shimbun September 18, 2009 Morning Edition:22

Japanese Page

It is we, young educational workers, that are the most directly affected by financial difficulties of private colleges and universities.

Since graduate schools gained priority in 1991 as a result of stricter selection of focus by the Ministry of Education (current the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), the number of candidate teachers has been increasing, despite the shrinking of the market caused by the lowering birth rate. This is because universities have attempted to compensate for the reduced number of enrollments by increasing the number of graduate students.

The university market scale has been maintained with great difficulty as predicted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Still, universities have refrained from recruiting due to the fears for the future.

Lifetime employment and the seniority system have been maintained in universities where no restructuring has been performed. Once employed, the person works for the university for decades and the post is filled for the long term. The number of young teachers has decreased and finally the super-aging society has arrived.

The most posts are professors' ones but lectures' ones, the first step to obtaining a position as a professor, are less than half compared with professors' ones. V-shaped structures are formed with many elderly executives and a small number of employees with no title. Obviously, workers in the bottom part of the V-shaped structure bear a heavy burden, being employed with term limitations and receiving insufficient salary.

As if rolling down a slope, the employment situation in academia has been deteriorating. The number of non-regular employees is estimated to be at least 40,000. Amid the financial woes, refraining from replacing teachers that have retired under the age limit has resulted in the continued reduction of the number of regular employees.

The extreme cost reduction has allowed universities to outsource many lectures to part-time lecturers who receive a low wage. Lectures managed by them account for 50 to 70% in private universities and colleges. From the standpoint of education, is this situation appropriate?

Although the part-time lecturers do the same job such as lecturing and marking as full time workers, their annual salary rarely reaches 2 million yen. Most of them have repayable scholarships reaching around 6 million yen.

It is said that the total number of the unemployed with PhD is estimated to be 100,000 if persons who cannot find a position even as a part-time lecturer and manage to get by working as a gfreeterh (job-hopper) are included. Since the newly graduated PhDs cannot obtain even teaching experiences, the longest-serving part time lecturers are being implicitly forced to retire by universities to hand over the positions to the younger generation. Under such environments, it is very difficult for them to maintain the high motivation to their lectures.

On the other hand, universities brag about their high education level by unabashedly launching a desire arousal PR campaign in which "Your dream will come true." However, in fact, only the number of temporarily contracted teachers has actually been increasing.

Universities completely forgets their missions as educational institutions. In addition, they discard students who fail job hunting or who are among low performance groups, as the students are disadvantageous for the university's PR campaign.

The failure of human resource development results in the continuous deterioration of society. It is extremely abnormal on all accounts that a situation where the number of suicides exceeds 30,000 per year has been kept for more than 10 years. It is the urgent issue for us to establish human resource development systems in which persons with problem solving capabilities are trained.

There are no quick fixes to solve the problems in university businesses under the restricted reality of the shrinking market. Business managers of private universities and colleges should go back to their first objectives. Rather than maintaining the status quo, future-oriented education and university businesses should be introduced with the objective of improving the future society.

UP:October 20, 2009 REV:October 21, 2009
Preparer & Translation by TAMURA Noriko
Proofread by KATAOKA Minoru