Until now, the received wisdom in Japan has been that the only purpose of graduate schools is to provide specialist education. To change this perception, in 2017, Nagoya University established the Doctoral Education Consortium.
The general expectation from society for students completing graduate school seems to be the possession of specialist knowledge and strong problem-solving capabilities. However, these abilities alone are not nearly enough to have a successful career in life. It is also essential to acquire more general abilities, including a broad perspective beyond your specialist field, communication skills, planning skills, leadership, and also English language skills, which are needed to pursue an international career. Ultimately, these skills come together depending on the way in which you as an individual respond to society. Such highly generalized skills, for example, the kinds of skills that are picked up through research, but which can be easily transferred to business and other fields, are referred to as “transferrable skills” (European Science Foundation, 2009). In addition to making it easier to deal with society outside academia, acquiring these skills has been proven to improve research efficiency. One of the main objectives of the Doctoral Education Consortium is to encourage the acquisition of transferrable skills to a high level among graduate school students at Nagoya University.
In recent years, Nagoya University has acquired large education and research projects from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and we have been working hard to promote reforms to graduate school education. More specifically, in the seven-year period since the launch of the Program for Leading Graduate Schools in academic year 2011, huge funds have been invested in reforming doctoral course education. Six programs have been adopted at Nagoya University, and our activities have been highly acclaimed. Each program has produced outstanding results, under our philosophy of seeking to foster PhD students who will become next-generation leaders capable of working in every conceivable field of society. The Doctoral Education Consortium is responsible for spreading these results across doctoral course education at the whole of Nagoya University. A new program that has followed on from the Program for Leading Graduate Schools is the WISE Program. Two of Nagoya University’s programs were adopted in the first year of the WISE Program, and the Doctoral Education Consortium was involved with both programs from the application stage, helping to build the curricula, etc.
Another important role of the Doctoral Education Consortium is to support collaboration in international doctoral course education, including Joint Degree Programs. For example, we plan to increase the number of Joint Degree Programs to twenty programs by academic year 2027. The assumption for students taking the program is that they will possess strong enough language skills to undertake research guidance at our partner universities, and assuring the quality of these degrees will be an important challenge. For this reason, the Doctoral Education Consortium holds courses on the practical use of the English language, and we are working in collaboration with each program in order to assure the quality of degrees.
From the perspective of student employment and collaboration with society including industry, Nagoya University promotes several initiatives in the field of “industry-academic co-creation education.” The Doctoral Education Consortium plays an important role in organizing and supporting these initiatives. We also provide career support for individual students who choose to continue their studies through to doctoral courses at graduate school. We hold interviews to listen to students’ concerns and desire, and carry out matching with companies. Once every year, we hold an exchange event for companies and PhD students to meet up.
As the headquarters for graduate school education at Nagoya University, we plan to continue developing our role and to actively assist the promotion of education reforms across the entire university. The Doctoral Education Consortium has only just set out on our journey, and your help and cooperation with our work will be greatly appreciated.
Director, Doctoral Education Consortium, Nagoya University Naoshi Sugiyama