1-4 Sophia University Global Features

1-4-1 Progress in the Top Global University Project

✽ Figures for AY2023 in graphs below represent Top Global University Project targets.

In 2014 Sophia University was selected as a Top Global University (Type B) by MEXT. In order to achieve its vision of “creating a global campus with multiple hub functions and supportive governance,” based on past achievements, Sophia seeks to become an entity that can lead in the globalization of Japanese universities as well as Japanese society by making pioneering efforts in development of new educational programs, promotion of student exchange, promotion of internal internationalization, and governance reform, etc.
Many of the plans set up under the Top Global University Project are in line with the concrete action plans for globalization and governance reform promoted under Sophia’s long-term plan “Grand Layout 2.0.”

The project requires designated universities to set up both common and individual indices to measure their performance. Common indices include numbers concerning globalization of faculty and staff members, number of inbound and outbound students, and number of courses taught in a foreign language. Individual indices unique to Sophia include the number of double degrees, the number of special advancement partnerships with overseas graduate programs, and the number of cooperative relationships with foreign high schools (designated schools overseas).

Number of foreign faculty members and faculty members with a foreign degree or overseas research/education experience

Faculties and departments have actively employed persons of foreign nationality and Japanese with degrees from institutions abroad or those who have a career in education and research for a given period overseas as new faculty members based on the medium-term personnel plan in accordance with the long-term plan “Grand Layout.” Regarding the employment of faculty members necessity of considering internationally recognized achievements and reputation in applicants’ research and educational activities is shared and well established university-wide. In the actual value (percentage) after AY2020, the University has already exceeded its target which was supposed to be reached in its final year, and is seeing a steady change.

Courses taught in a foreign language (number of courses & percentage, full-year)

With the opening of a new English course (SPSF) in AY2020, the percentage is steadily moving toward the final target. Developing human resources who are capable of thinking and expressing their views in a foreign language is widely shared as the university-wide goal. The number of students who study these courses actively is also steadily increasing.

Percentage of Japanese students with study abroad experience (full-year)

The number of Japanese students with study abroad experience has increased, mainly due to the enhancement of the study abroad support system such as the study abroad counselling program continued since this project was adopted; the steady growth in the number of partner institutions sharing student exchange programs; and the enhancement of overseas short-term programs and internship courses, and is 1,000 students in AY2019. But, in AY2020, owing to the impact of COVID-19, dispatched study abroad accompanying travel was completely canceled, resulting in a sharp decrease. In AY2021, from the latter half of the year, travel by students participating in exchange programs has partially resumed after individual screening, and together with the implementation of overseas programs online, the number of students with study-abroad experience has recovered to about 380.

✽ The number of full-time Japanese-national students who have earned credits during study abroad (regardless of duration).

Percentage of international students to all students (full-year)

The number of overseas students accepted throughout the year remains at a high level owing to the expansion of partner institutions sharing student exchange programs; summer sessions/programs which were reorganized after the project was adopted, the hosting of short-term programs mainly targeting China/Oceania; and customized programs dealing with Japan’s latest developments, environmental issues, etc. In AY2020, the number of overseas students decreased owing to the suspension of new entries of overseas students caused by COVID-19, and in AY2021, the number of overseas students accepted remained flat. However, in AY2022, study in Japan for overseas students has gradually resumed and is expected to recover.

✽The number of overseas students includes both overseas students with “study abroad” residence status as well as those of short-term programs without “study abroad” residence status.

Number of inbound and outbound students under students exchange agreements

Sophia University has annually added approximately 20 partner universities through student exchange agreements. Despite the impact of COVID-19, the University had nine new partner universities in AY2021. As of the end of AY2021, the University has 338 partners in 62 countries. The number of overseas students accepted exceeded the interim target in AY2019. Although the number of exchange students dispatched were little below the target, the student exchange is going fairly well. But, in AY2020, both decreased owing to the impact of COVID-19. By region, the number of the partner universities in the United States and European nations accounts for approximately 70 percent, and the numbers in the other regions are also increasing on the whole. Accordingly, the regional diversification of the partner universities is being progressed. On the other hand, there was also a certain number of requests for acceptance online during the semester, and accordingly, the number of exchange students newly accepted in the AY2021 spring and autumn semesters was 160.

1-4-2 Outbound exchange students

The figures show the number of outbound exchange students who studied at overseas partner institutions and its transition by region. Due to the impact of COVID-19, the University decided to cancel all outbound programs, including exchange programs in AY 2020. However, in AY 2021, according to the partner institutions restarting in-class course offering, the University gave special permissions to students for the long-term exchange programs only when the University could confirm that the situation of the areas and the partner institutions met the certain conditions and that the students are well prepared enough. Some students started their study abroad from online and transferred to in-class after traveling to the country in the second semester, and some canceled their original plan to study abroad in fall, AY2020 and took online courses in spring, AY 2021. Although students could choose to study abroad online if the partner institutions allowed, most of the students chose to fly and take in-class courses due to the reasons such as time differences and limited opportunities to be exposed in the different cultures.

1-4-3 Inbound students from Overseas Partner Institutions

The figures show the number of inbound students from overseas partner institutions by region. In AY2021, the University continued to accept inbound students online, with the exception of the few students, under the influence of COVID-19. In addition to classes, cultural experiences such as English Rakugo and meditation were also conducted online this year. The percentage of international students accepted online was high from Europe, and it seems that many students struggled because of the time difference. According to a questionnaire survey of international students, though some students expressed regret that they could not come to Japan due to entry restrictions, satisfaction with online classes was very high.

The number of international students after AY2022 is expected to increase due to the relaxation of Japan’s immigration restrictions due to COVID-19.

1-4-4 Student Exchange and the Number of Partner Institutions

Sophia University has made a particular effort to increase the number of its partner institutions in order to foster student and academic exchange with universities abroad. Since AY2012 the number of partner schools had increased at the remarkable rate of 20 to 30 schools a year. Accompanying this increase, the number of inbound and outbound students has shown corresponding increases recently. Although affected by the spread of COVID-19 in AY2020 and AY2021, in the last five years to AY2019, there have been positive results for over 90% of the partner institutions and exchange activities. Over 400 inbound and outbound students are being mutually exchanged annually.

By region, partner institutions have recently shown growth in Europe and Asia. In Europe, many new partner schools from German-speaking regions were established due to the Integrated Study Abroad Program instituted by the Department of German Studies in AY2015. Further, partner schools were actively sought out in previously untouched regions such as East and Central Europe, resulting in broader options for students seeking to study abroad. In Asia, thanks to the one-term exchange system of SAIMS program for Southeast Asia inaugurated in 2014, the number of partner institutions grew, and in China the establishment of many partner institutions led to a considerable increase in student exchange.

1-4-5 International students

A temporary decrease in the number of international students was observed shortly after the Great East Japan Earthquake due to study abroad cancellations, but with the exception of AY2011, the number of international students has trended upward. Significant increases from the previous year have been observed since AY2014. Affected by the spread of COVID-19, the number of international students in AY2020 and 2021 decreased significantly owing to the suspension of new acceptances of some non-regular students and immigration restrictions.

By region, international students from Asia have more than tripled compared to a decade ago. Although not as dramatically as Asian students, inbound students from Europe, Latin America, and Africa have also increased greatly during the past ten years.

1-4-6 Number of Enrollees in Foreign Language Courses

In AY2012 the Center for the Teaching of Foreign Languages in General Education was reorganized as the Center for Language Education and Research, and the language curriculum has been overhauled. To the 18 languages for which courses were offered from AY2014 onward, four more languages—Swahili, Turkish, Vietnamese, and Hindi—have been added, for a total of 22.

The data given here reflects the situation from AY2016 onward, when the overhauling of the curriculum system had been more or less completed. While the number of students enrolled in English-language courses usually depends on the number of the university enrollment, the declining trend in the past several years is partly because the number of CEFR B2 level students at university entry was increasing and the number of students who try to earn credits by taking tests instead of English courses has grown. Decrease in the number of students who enrolled in Italian in AY2019 is due to the curriculum change in the number of lessons per week from one to two. On the other hand, the cumulative number of enrollment in Italian slightly increased.

In AY2020, owing to the influence of COVID-19, online classes were offered across the university, but many overseas students were unable to enter Japan and many declined to study in Japan, halving the number of students studying Japanese. Also, in AY2021, owing to the continued immigration restrictions, the same situation continued for the number of students studying Japanese. On the other hand, the number of students taking their first foreign language in AY2020 increased by about 10% (670). This is because the number of students who are enthusiastic about taking language courses has increased owing to the fact that the classes have become online across the university as the state of emergency continued. In AY2021, this trend diminished and returned to the previous level. (The number of students excludes short-term studies and intensive courses)

1-4-7 Participants in internship programs

Since 2015, Sophia University has offered an internship course in which a student is given credits for accepting an internship at a training firm with which the University has entered into an agreement and for taking lectures or submitting assignments before or after the internship. The purpose of the internship course is to deepen students’ learning and raise their motivation to learn through their work experience by understanding the structure and actual conditions of global society; improve their necessary competency for society; and connect their study in class with real-world experience.

Training firms include our domestic and overseas partners in various fields, such as the global business field (e.g. global companies), the international cooperation field (e.g. international organizations and international cooperation institutions), the global media field (e.g. news media), and the global politics field (e.g. embassies in Japan and research institutes), providing various training opportunities. In AY2021, overseas training was conducted online. Domestic training was also conducted online.

1-4-8 Participants in Short-term Overseas Programs

The figure below shows trends in the number of students participating in programs held during summer and spring recess by region of destination. In AY2019, establishment of new programs mainly increased the number of students who went for study to Europe and Southeast Asia, and the largest number of students ever participated in short-term overseas programs.

Considering the spread of the COVID-19 continued in AY2020, Short-term Overseas Language Programs, Short-term Study Abroad Programs and Social Engagement Programs, except a few courses, were conducted online in AY2021, and a total of 209 students participated in those programs.

✽Total number of participants in Short-term Overseas Language Programs, Short-term Study Abroad Programs and Social Engagement Programs
✽Figures for AY2016 and beyond include participants of the Cambodia Exposure Tour (currently named the “Cambodia Service Learning Program.”
✽The AY2017 Universities of Global Leadership Program for the Five Jesuit Universities of East Asia program (GLP) was hosted by Sophia University in Japan and
six Sophia students participated, but they are not included in the above.
✽The AY2018 AJCU-AP Service Learning Program (SLP) was hosted by Sophia University in Japan and nine Sophia students participated, but they are not included in the above.

1-4-9 Participants in inbound Sophia Short-term Programs

Sophia University has offered a short-term international program called Summer Session in Asian Studies for the past 50 years, attracting large numbers of international students. In AY2018, the form of the program was altered, and the University provided it as the Summer Session in East Asian Studies and Japanese language twice in June and July. Also, since AY2013, another program called January Session for Japanese Studies has been offered mainly to students from Oceanian countries in January.

In AY2021 due to COVID-19, Summer Session in East Asian Studies was held online in June 2021 and January Session in Japanese Studies was held online in January 2022.

✽From AY2018, the programs “Summer Session in Asian Studies” and “Summer Session in Japanese Studies” have been formed into the program “Summer Session in East Asian Studies and Japanese language.”

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