How One Japanese University is Plugging the Diversity Gap
Sponsored by Waseda University
University should be a place where everyone feels welcome and comfortable.
Although it can be a complex matter, universities should be committed to playing a proactive role in tackling the diversity gap. The need to be transparent about such matters, such as addressing needs for the LGBT+ community and affirmative actions is paramount if everyone from students to faculty members is to have a positive, enriching and valuable university experience.
So, when it comes to plugging the diversity gap, what steps are universities taking to ensure their programs successfully foster diversity and inclusivity? Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan is rolling out plans and schemes across its campus to tackle this issue and we spoke with them to find out more.
More than 50 degrees can be completed entirely in English
Around the world, English is widely used as a language of instruction for higher education. As a result, many universities offer exclusive English-taught degree programs to accommodate and attract their gradually growing cohort of international students.
Waseda University offers over 50 exclusive English-taught degree programs with both domestic and international students welcoming this new offering.
Zhiyin from Singapore who is studying at the School of International Liberal Studies at Waseda University said: “I have always had an interest in many areas. Therefore, a liberal arts degree program was a natural choice for me.
“Still unconfident in being able to understand university level lectures in Japanese though, I searched for a Japanese university that offered a liberal arts degree program in English, and realized that Waseda was my best option.”
Home to more international students than any other university in Japan
Moving to a new city, let alone a new country to study can seem quite daunting. But when you’re living and studying alongside hundreds of others who are also in the same boat as you, it’s comforting to know that you’re not alone.
In fact, approximately 8,000 overseas students study at Waseda University every year and one third of students enrolled in Waseda’s School of International Liberal Studies are international.
“I’m having a great time. I’ve made hundreds of friends, and I’m constantly running into them even outside of school. I also have a group of close friends – some are Japanese, some come from other countries, and I’m always experiencing new things with them,” said Zhiyin.
Image credit: Waseda University
To learn more about Waseda, why not take a 360-degree virtual tour of its campus and get an insight into student life there?!
Dedicated support services for the LGBT+ community
In recent years, events such as Pride have made big steps in reducing discrimination of LGBT+ individuals and helping educate societies to be more tolerant and accepting. Universities are also doing their part to make campus a LGBT+ friendly space.
Waseda University’s effort to improve diversity on campus has been recognized on both a national and international level. It became the first university in Japan to open the Gender and Sexuality Center in a bid to combat attitudes and better represent the LGBT+ community. All students are welcome to use the community space and get support, advice and information.
The Gender & Sexuality Center organizes events on campus to create a more inclusive environment. For instance, in April this year, Waseda University invited Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir (SGLC) from Australia to perform at a concert organized by the university.
Bringing domestic and international students together
This is something that is standard practice for a lot of universities around the world as it brings together an exciting mix of backgrounds and cultures, and also encourages students to get to know those who they may not usually socialize with.
Meeting people who are from very different backgrounds to your own allows you to experience a wider range of cultures and religions, which in turn, encourages collaboration, fosters your social development, and ultimately, broadens your global perspective.
Not only does it enrich students’ education experiences on both a social and academic level, it also helps challenge negative stereotypes.
The Waseda International Student House (WISH) is home to domestic and international students. It also runs the Social Intelligence (SI) Program, which is compulsory for all students. The program helps students develop their leadership, communication and creative problem-solving skills, while – most importantly – fostering students’ cross-cultural awareness.
At the end of each year, the top-performing students in the program are presented with the opportunity of participating in a fully-paid overseas international internship.
Reflecting the city it resides in
The city of Tokyo has held onto second place in the QS Best Student Cities rankings for the second year in a row, and rightly so.
A mountain-backed cityscape that’s full of cultural delights, Tokyo is considered one of the most diverse and welcoming cities in the world. Oh, and it also happens to be the host of the 2020 Olympic Games so studying here means you might get the chance to rub shoulders with the world’s elite athletes.
Plugging the diversity gap in university goes beyond the four walls of education and into the world of work. Tokyo is a bustling metropolis that is full of opportunity – especially for recent graduates. If you can demonstrate a global perspective and work well cross-culturally, you’re going to stand out to prospective employers.
This article was originally published in October 2019 . It was last updated in January 2020