Study Abroad Dims Job Prospects for Japanese Students

I’d been meaning to comment on this NYT article which appeared May 30: http://www.n2011,  My only experience in Japan was as a member of the second Fulbright international education administrator program in 1987.  I was aware that numbers of Japanese students studying in the US had dropped in recent years. I think the importance of watching numbers has become linked with both the globalization of student flows and the global economic downturn.

And so this story is tied to the specific impact of studying abroad on the job prospects for Japanese students upon their return home [and directly contradicts the narrative of the positive impact of study abroad for American students – as viewed by U.S. employers – in their job searches].  The article states, “..a shrinking portion of Japanese college students is seeking higher education in the West.  At the same time, Japan’s regional [economic] rivals, China, South Korea and India, are sending increasing numbers of students overseas…”

There is empirical evidence to support the negative view of study abroad attributed by Japanese companies.  In a survey of 1,000 companies by Disco, a Japanese recruiting company, conducted in June, 2011, “fewer than a quarter said they planned to hire Japanese applicants who had studied abroad.”

Bi-lingual Japanese students with international experience are more likely to find employment with multinationals or American firms doing business in Japan.

There is a reference to the improved stature of Japanese universities as also playing a role in this changing demographic picture – maybe the bloom is off the rose as to the perceived need to attend a prestigious U.S. college or university.  I’ve always felt  there was too much pressure placed on international students to attend so-called “elite” institutions.  So while this is not by itself a bad thing,  in terms of the diversity of intercultural interaction on U.S. campuses, the absence of Japanese students is very unfortunate.  A decline in exposure to other cultures fosters the isolation of Japanese youth and young professionals at a time when globalization calls for greater cross-cultural skills and intercultural competencies.

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