Reconsideration of the Effects of University Education in Japan

Author Name HAMANAKA Junko(National Center for University Entrance Examinations)
Creation Date/NO. March 2016 16-J-022
Research Project Reform of Labor Market Institutions
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Since the 1990s, reformation of university education in Japan has aimed at strengthening educational functions while being conscious of the demands from the labor market. However, there is still criticism by many people of the gap between what they learned in university and the knowledge and skills required in their professional lives.

This paper examines the reason for the low evaluation of university education, focusing attention on the characteristics and experiences of company employees. In autumn 2015, we conducted a questionnaire survey with a sampling size of 1,100 company employees who, in the past three years, had conducted white-collar job interviews.

Results show that: 1) A sizable number actually found the meaning of working hard at their studies during their academic life; 2) However, those working at influential organizations such as big companies tend to evaluate university education lowly; 3) Experiencing difficult situations such as entering new businesses or bad business performances may lead to appreciating the significance of university time, but not necessarily lead to evaluating education and research at university highly; 4) Job interviewers' own experience at university has a great impact on their recognition of university education. If they were not highly motivated to study while at university, they tend not to evaluate the university education as being useful.

In addition, our analysis found that even in the case where the significance of study and research at university is evaluated by job interviewers, they may not ask enough questions about the education undertaken at the university during job interviews due to their lack of understanding of specialized research topics. As such, it suggests that experience of company employees greatly affects the evaluation of university education.