Japan – Sweden University Presidents’ Summit
I am in Japan, together with other Swedish Vice-Chancellors and Presidents from several of the big research universities. Yesterday we had a meeting at the Swedish Embassy in Tokyo, together with Presidents from 14 of Japan's top universities; the largest Japanese-Swedish meeting in higher education and research in decades.
After a series of presentations of the current situation and challenges for the universities in Japan and Sweden, we discussed the joint development and cooperation opportunities in the afternoon. It is clear that there is an enormous untapped potential, but there are also many system barriers; not least in this case a clear language barrier. Stockholm University currently has partnership agreements with, among others, University of Tokyo, Kyoto University, Nagoya University, Tohoku University and the private Waseda University. The agreement with Tokyo University started in 1979 and is our second oldest agreement and was recently updated with co-operation in education.
It is striking that universities globally today undergo the same process as we do, from a lot of half-dormant agreements to a few long-term and strategic partnerships. The consensus was that such partnerships are best built on the basis of jointly identified areas of strength, but preferably also in areas where we complement each other. Likewise, we agreed that student exchanges are rarely effective if they are not in close interaction with exchanges between teachers and researchers. This is a question of long and time-consuming processes of relationship building. They require a lot of dedication, but cooperation can be very rewarding.
October 7, 2015