Japanese Researchers Turn to USFSP to Learn About Data Governance and Accreditation

Visitors from Yamagata and Meiji Universities in Japan visit USFSP. From left: Martin Tadlock, Lauren Haddad Friedman, Shigeru Asano, Koji Fujiwara, Koichi Yamamoto, Kathleen Gibson-Dee, Michelle Madden, Shari Schwartz, Jamie Bennett and Wendy Baker. 

Visitors from Yamagata and Meiji Universities in Japan visit USFSP. From left: Martin Tadlock, Lauren Haddad Friedman, Shigeru Asano, Koji Fujiwara, Koichi Yamamoto, Kathleen Gibson-Dee, Michelle Madden, Shari Schwartz, Jamie Bennett and Wendy Baker. 

(Jan. 3, 2018) – Japanese researchers are turning to the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) to learn about best practices in U.S. higher education. During the Fall 2017 semester, two separate delegations visited the campus to meet with leadership and learn about the details of USFSP’s institutional performance metrics, data governance and accreditation practices. Hosting such international delegations exposes USFSP staff and faculty to counterparts across the globe and new ideas in higher education, as well as furthers a USFSP priority of enhancing international efforts on campus.

On October 20, USFSP hosted a fact-finding delegation from the Japan Institution for Higher Education Evaluation (JIHEE), one of the accrediting agencies recognized by Japan’s Ministry of Education. The group came to learn about USFSP’s accreditation processes – both regional and specialized.

“The visitors were very interested in learning about our internal institutional effectiveness processes, both the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) process, and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation,” said Dr. Michelle Madden, director of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment.

The delegation met with USFSP administrators and deans to discuss college-level program reviews and annual academic reporting, the AACSB accreditation process and how data informs program review and institutional effectiveness decisions.

The visitors included Mr. Toshihiro Ito, JIHEE’s Secretary General, Professor Sekio Hada of Nihon University, and Mr. Tetsuya Wagatsuma, a research associate in JIHEE’s Department of Research and Development. JIHEE is a member-based organization of more than 350 Japanese universities and conducts evaluations that contribute to the development and quality enhancement of its members’ educational and research activities. Nihon University is a private research university with over 70,000 students and many campuses, predominantly in the Kantō region of Japan.

A month later on November 27, two researchers from Yamagata University’s Office of Institutional Research, Dr. Shigeru Asano and Dr. Koji Fujiwara, and one from Meiji University’s Office of Assessments, Koichi Yamamoto, visited to better understand how U.S. universities collect and manage access to data, as well as what standards govern data management.

Dr. Fujiwara, the principal investigator in a research project to help his Japanese colleagues understand U.S. data practices in higher education, said Institutional Research and Effectiveness are among several “hot topics” in Japanese Higher Education.

“In Japan, almost no universities have an integrated campus-wide database. Thus, we have to collect data from each related office, such as Finance and Student Services, and merge them at the Institutional Research office,” he said.

Dr. Fujiwara added that it is a real struggle to get these offices to share data in a consistent way because Japan has no overarching law like the U.S. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which provides guidelines on the disclosure and use of student data. This was the second visit by Drs. Fujiwara and Asano, who also visited back in February.

Yamagata is a national university in the region of the same name, which is about 2.5 hours from Tokyo by high-speed train. The University includes four campuses, with 8,800 graduate and undergraduate students, 900 full-time faculty and six colleges. Meanwhile, Meiji University is a private institution in Tokyo that also has four campuses in Tokyo and Bangkok (Thailand), with approximately 30,000 students and 1,000 faculty. In 2016, Meiji was chosen as the most popular university among high school students among all 780 universities in Japan, according to Japan’s “Looking for a University” Ranking Book.