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In the course of updating our 2007 Survey of Japanese Studies at Higher Education Institutions in the UK, we have also taken the opportunity to seek out the opinions of Japanese Studies students. In a time of continued change within Higher Education, and given the increasing shift by University Administrations towards viewing students as a market of consumers, we felt it was important both for ourselves at the Japan Foundation and for the wider Japanese Studies community to know the thoughts of the current generation of students.

Here we present a report based on the responses we have received - with the lure of a competition offering Japan Foundation goods to a lucky few, we have managed to entice 260 replies , with the survey having been sent to approximately 1000 students across twelve Universities.

We hope that this report represents just the first small step towards working together with partners throughout the Japanese Studies community to produce the type of evidence based analysis that is required to demonstrate the impact and value of the subject within the UK. Given the increasing budgetary pressures within University Departments, which many worry might unfairly marginalize a subject with the more complex educational needs of Japanese Studies, we hope this report serves as a symbol of our intent to do all we can to provide support where discussions are taking place to justify the continued importance of Japanese Studies.

Of course we would welcome any analysis you may wish to contribute after looking through this report - please contact Neil Cantwell with any comments you may have, either by e-mail at neil.cantwell@jpf.org.uk or by calling 020 7436 6695 .

You can access the results of the survey by clicking on the following links according to the questions that were asked
  1. What year of study have you just completed?
  2. Please select which option best describes your Japan-related study.
  3. What was your first encounter with Japan?
  4. Had you studied Japanese before undertaking a Japan-related course at University?
  5. Had you studied a second language other than Japanese prior to undertaking a Japan-related course at University?
  6. How important do you think previous experience and study skills from learning another language has been in enabling you to learn Japanese at University level?
  7. What area of the Japanese Language have you found most challenging in your course to date?
  8. What are of the Japanese Language do you feel is most important for Japanese Studies?
  9. How would you find the idea of a Japanese Studies course that didn°«t include study of the Japanese Language?
  10. Please select any of the following activities that you find helpful to do alongside your course.
  11. What areas of Japanese Studies are you most interested in?
  12. When did you first become interested in doing a Japan-related course at University?
  13. Why did you choose to pursue a Japan-related course at University?
  14. How is it to you to be able to spend a year in Japan as part of your course?
  15. What was the most important factor in your choosing to enrol on the Japan-related course at your University?
  16. What do you find most challenging about your current Japanese Studies course?
  17. What do you find most enjoyable about your current Japanese Studies course?
  18. Do you think it is likely that you will pursue Japanese Studies at Post-graduate level?
  19. How significant do you think your Japanese Studies degree will be in your future career choices?
  20. How likely do you think you are to do any of the following things in the future?
    1. Go to Japan on holiday
    2. Go to Japan to live and work
    3. Work for a Japanese company in the UK
    4. Find a job in the UK where you can use Japanese Language
    5. Continue to be actively interested in Japanese culture
Some observations of our own from the responses were

- the much-celebrated °∆Pop Culture°« mediums of Anime and Manga are the most popular hooks for getting respondents interested in Japan initially, but it seems that over time their interest broadens, as shown in Question 11. It is probably worth stressing the finding that the Japanese Language and Traditional Culture register more interest than Popular Culture in responses to this question.

- also on the point of Anime and Manga being the first initial hook, it is perhaps worth asking whether the same density of this material is as accessible to children in this country now as it was for the generation of respondents returning this survey. For example, in the realm of children cartoons, where previously there may have been a deluge of animated material originating from Japan, now this space may well have been filled by imitation programmes made elsewhere,, and therefore not offering the same invitation to becoming interested in Japanese culture.

- relating to Question 4, the number studying Japanese independently seems to be significantly large, but then again, perhaps also is the even larger proportion who have done no study of Japanese before. It will be interesting to compare the other columns in this graph as well in future years, reflecting the rise in the teaching of Japanese in UK schools detailed by the Japan Foundation Japanese Language Study Survey to be published shortly, with this increase hopefully filtering through to the next generation of Japanese Studies University students.

- in Question 10, there appears to be a clear preference for °∆watching°« type activities over °∆reading°« type activities, although visiting websites in third place is perhaps somewhere in between on that spectrum.

- looking at responses to Questions 13 and 17, it is possible to extrapolate a set of attractive selling points for the subject of Japanese Studies, such as
  • gain access to another culture!
  • spend a year in Japan!
  • enjoy a wide-range of multi-disciplinary study!
  • experience the satisfaction of overcoming a challenge!
  • learn and make friends easily in small classes!
  • broaden your horizons!