Key Presidential Policies: Operating as a World-Leading Research Institution

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Nagahiro Minato
Nagahiro Minato
President, Kyoto University

The following Key Presidential Policies were formulated based on the Kyoto University Mission Statement (issued in 2001), the WINDOW Concept (a set of goals and guiding principles for the University that was formulated in 2015), and the initiatives outlined in the University’s Designated National University Corporation Proposal (drafted for the government initiative of the same name in 2017). These policies provide an overview of new initiatives that will be pursued by Kyoto University during my term as president. Upon being elected as president in October 2020, I reviewed the University's action plans together with the executive board. These basic policies were developed through those reviews and discussions, announced to faculty and staff members in March 2021, and are now being made available to the public.

With the aim of promoting the University's continuing development as a world-class research institution, these basic policies encompass three broad objectives: reforming the education and research support system, ensuring the diversity of human resources, and strengthening the University's financial base. Based on those objectives, the policies establish guidelines in the following six areas: I. Education and Student Support, II. Support for Research Activities by Faculty Members, III. Improvement of the Operational Management System, IV. Facilities, V. Organizational Management, and VI. Fund-Raising Activities.

The university's faculty and staff members will work together to steadily implement concrete initiatives based on these basic policies. The policies will be revised as required in response to changing circumstances. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Key Presidential Policies: Operating as a World-Leading Research Institution

In 2017, upon being selected by the Japanese government as a Designated National University Corporation (DNU), Kyoto University formulated a medium- to long-term basic strategy to promote its further development as a world-class research institution. That basic strategy, which was developed through extensive University-wide deliberation, should also be maintained during the fourth period of the Medium-Term Goals and Plans. Since the beginning of my appointment as president, I have engaged in discussions with the University's executive vice-presidents and other executive board members to review the University's action plans to achieve its objectives during the fourth period of the Medium-Term Goals. Those reviews shed light on several aspects of ongoing initiatives that require adjustment, and also lead to the formulation of new initiatives that are necessary. Focusing on the initiatives to be adjusted or newly implemented, this document aims to define the basic policies for action to be taken during my term as president. The content of this document will, to the extent possible, be reflected in the University's plans for the fourth period of the Medium-Term Goals.

The Medium-Term Goals and Plans detail not only adjustments to existing plans and new plans, but also ongoing plans that will continue to be implemented. This document is not, therefore, intended to be a direct representation of the University's Medium-Term Goals and Plans. The key policies herein may be revised as required in response to changes in the University's situation, newly emerging necessities, and University-wide deliberations.

Basic Concept

The University shall operate in accordance with its Mission Statement. In order to promote creative research guided by a philosophy of academic freedom, particular efforts shall be made to develop an appealing education and research environment that will attract diverse and talented individuals from around the world, as well as to strengthen the University's management to facilitate greater autonomy of operation.

In order to maintain and develop an appealing education and research environment, efforts shall be made to enhance the learning environment for students, enhance educational content and systems, develop systems to support the education and research activities of faculty, and improve faculty working conditions. As it is particularly important to ensure the diversity of students and faculty members, due consideration must be given to increasing the number of talented international students, and to fostering and increasing the number of young and female faculty members.

To strengthen the University's management, proactive efforts shall be made to enhance the University's capacity for the dissemination of information to society, as well as to further promote industry-academia collaboration and fund-raising activities. These efforts are expected to increase the University's presence in society and garner increased support.

Specific initiatives to be implemented to realize the basic concepts outlined above, particularly those pertaining to initiatives to be adjusted or newly implemented, are described below.

Specific Initiatives

I. Education and Student Support

So that the University's faculties and graduate schools can enroll and educate diverse, talented, and motivated students, student welfare and support services shall be improved, and education contents and systems shall be developed in accordance with the wishes of students and the needs of the current era.

(1) Undergraduate Education
  • Admission procedures, etc: Efforts to reach out to high school and junior high school students and their parents shall be strengthened in order to increase the ratio of female students, and efforts shall be made to enhance the Kyoto University International Undergraduate Program (Kyoto iUP) to increase the number of talented international students. The current entrance examination system shall be maintained for the time being, but the special admissions system will be reviewed as necessary to ensure consistency between its intended purpose and the curriculum for enrolled students. The review will be based on follow-up checks on the study status of enrolled students and the status of graduates.
  • Enrollment limits for undergraduate students and the transfer of students to other faculties/divisions: The enrollment limits for new undergraduate students will continue to be reviewed in consideration of medium- and long-term social demands, and in response to changing academic fields. The system for the transfer of students to other faculties or divisions shall also be reviewed to enable the University to appropriately and flexibly meet the needs of students who wish to change their career path after enrollment.
  • Undergraduate curriculum reform: A review will be conducted to determine whether the number of credits required for graduation in each faculty is appropriate. In particular, due to the increasing number of specialized subjects, there is a concern that some students merely try to superficially collect the required number of credits in liberal arts and science subjects. Curriculum reforms will be implemented to make liberal arts and science subjects more effective and appealing, and a review will be conducted regarding the number of credits required for graduation and the required subjects.
  • Short-term study abroad: To promote study abroad, the number of credits required for graduation in each faculty shall be reviewed, and proactive measures shall be taken to introduce or expand credit transfer with overseas universities. Efforts shall also be made to promote credit recognition for study-abroad language programs, and non-credit-bearing inbound and outbound short-term study abroad programs shall be reviewed.
(2) Graduate School and Professional Graduate School Education
  • Organization and expansion of benefit-type scholarship programs: In addition to the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) fellowship program and the Teaching Assistant/Research Assistant (TA/RA) system, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) is planning to launch a new scholarship program for doctoral students. Kyoto University will also introduce its own independently-funded scholarship programs to develop a balanced system to support the living expenses of the University's students and encourage talented students to advance to graduate schools. To achieve this, efforts shall be made to clearly organize the objectives and content of current scholarship programs (support for living expenses, research, etc), which have become complicated, and a system shall be established to provide and explain scholarship information to students in a way that is easier to understand.
  • Graduate school enrollment limits and organizational reform of departments: The University will continue to petition MEXT for the implementation of reforms that facilitate the flexible management of university enrollment limits, and a study will be conducted to determine whether or not current enrollment limits can appropriately respond to changing societal demands and academic trends. It is also necessary to promote organizational reforms, such as the integration and consolidation of research divisions (department systems, etc), and corresponding curricular reforms in order to develop effective programs to foster researchers in all fields.
  • Recruitment of talented international students: Instead of adopting a passive approach, the University will utilize its overseas centers to actively implement unified activities to promote the recruitment of talented international graduate students from overseas by all graduate schools. To this end, the University will establish a recruiting office within a new office for graduate school education support as described below, and further enhance its unified portal site for all graduate schools. Current tuition/admission fee exemption and scholarship programs for international students will be reviewed and revised to promote the recruitment of talented international students.
  • Establishment of an office for graduate school education support: In addition to the above activities, the University will establish an office for graduate school education support to enhance liberal arts and general education courses, and to centrally manage diverse graduate degree programs (the Doctoral Program for World-Leading Innovative and Smart Education [WISE Program], double degree programs, joint degree programs, etc). This new office will promote collaboration and cooperation among graduate schools in diverse aspects of their education and research activities.
(3) Student life
  • Enhancement of student counseling services: Among both undergraduate and graduate students, there is an increasing need for counseling services on matters such as student life, physical and mental health, and study circumstances — to the extent that the needs exceed the capacity of the General Student Support Center. At a minimum, counseling services and general support contact points for students shall be established on each of the University's campuses.
  • Improvement of student service facilities: The University will improve its facilities for student services, including the renovation of its offices, which are showing signs of aging.

II. Support for Research Activities by Faculty Members

The University's most important task is to secure diverse and outstanding researchers, including young and female scholars, from Japan and overseas, and create an environment in which faculty members can fully devote themselves to their education and research activities.

(1) Reform of the research support system
  • The University will increase the number of staff (administrative secretaries, technical staff, research administrators [URAs], etc) who can provide support for faculty members' research activities, and establish a unified system for the employment and management of such staff to reduce the burden on faculty members.
  • The necessity, composition, and modes of operation of University meetings and committees shall be reviewed, and more administrative procedures shall be implemented online in order to substantially increase the ratio of faculty members' efforts devoted to education and research.
  • An increase in the basic research expenses allocated to departments shall be considered, and efforts shall be made to enhance the URA support for obtaining competitive research funds, and to improve the internal research funding system as a "safety net" for faculty members applying for competitive research funds.
(2) Improvement of working conditions for faculty members
  • The University personnel and salary systems shall be reformed, and a system shall be introduced whereby the education and research performance of faculty members is appropriately reflected in their salaries and other benefits based upon transparent evaluation criteria, and with reference to the salaries of research personnel in the private sector.
  • As many tenured positions as possible shall be secured for the currently large number of fixed-term faculty members (including program-specific faculty members), and permanent employment career paths shall be provided to a greater number of faculty members based on an appropriate performance evaluation system.
  • Improvements shall be made to the research support environment for young faculty members, including the provision of childcare services.
(3) Ensuring the diversity of faculty members
  • Currently, the ratios of female faculty members, young faculty members, and international faculty members at Kyoto University are the lowest among Japan's major national universities, which represents a major issue for the University's social credibility and sustainability. Efforts shall be made to increase the diversity of faculty members through various measures, such as the introduction of external funding, flexible allocation of positions for faculty and staff, and the consideration of a system for the reallocation of faculty positions.
  • Based on a thorough understanding of the current situation of each faculty consort, appropriate targets shall be set for the ratios of young faculty members and female faculty members.
(4) Reform of education and research organizations
  • One of Kyoto University's strengths is the diversity of its education and research organizations. However, the organizations vary greatly in size, which often becomes an issue with regards to administrative efficiency, compliance, etc. The purpose and current status evaluation of each education and research organization shall be reviewed in light of changing academic fields and societal demands, and organizational restructuring and integration shall be recommended as necessary.
  • While fully utilizing the faculty consort/faculty platform system as intended, a reform of the University's education and research organizations shall be implemented to make them more flexible and functional.
(5) Internationalization of research activities and dissemination of research results
  • The roles and functions of the University's overseas centers shall be reviewed, and an effective system will be developed to support the internationalization of education and research activities.

  • The University's on-site laboratories will aim to manage their operations independently, and serve as bases for sustained international research collaboration.

  • To enhance its international research collaboration, the University will shift from conventional forms of international collaboration, conducted through the conclusion of academic exchange agreements, to more practical and sustainable forms of international collaboration facilitated by strategic partnerships with selected research institutions overseas.

  • The University will develop an organization to function as a hub for the enhancement of its capacity to disseminate to society the education and research outcomes of the humanities and social sciences.

  • Efforts shall be made to promote the University's independent open access policy for research results through the Kyoto University Library Network.

(6) Promotion of industry-academia collaboration and cooperation activities
  • The functions of the Office for Society-Academia Collaboration for Innovation (SACI) shall be expanded and enhanced, and measures shall be taken to ensure its transparency. Particular efforts shall be made to promote communication between SACI and the entirety of the University's education and research organizations and researchers. SACI's contact points for the exchange of information with researchers throughout the University shall be expanded, and efforts shall be made to strengthen its functions to cultivate and support research projects with development potential, including University-based venture startups.

  • Expanded support shall be provided for graduate education-based research collaboration with the private sector, including the enrollment of doctoral students from the private sector.

III. Improvement of Operational Management System

In order to facilitate efficient and functional operational management while taking the utmost care to ensure compliance, efforts will be made to radically improve the University's administrative organizations and employment systems, as well as enhance the policy-making skills of administrative staff members to comprehensively reduce inefficient expenditure.

(1) Administrative reform of the central administration and departments
  • Organizational reforms shall be implemented to enable the central administration to manage operations more efficiently by eliminating vertically divided administrative functions and enhancing interdepartmental cooperation and information sharing.
  • In accordance with central administration reforms, each department's budget reallocation shall be reviewed, and an appropriate and effective budget allocation and usage system will be established.
  • The roles and functions of the current campus administrative offices shall be reviewed, and an efficient system for role-sharing and cooperation among campus administrative offices and the central administration shall be established.
  • Cooperation between the newly established research support system and individual administrative offices shall be strengthened to develop seamless relationships between them.
(2) Review of University-wide functions and organizations
  • The necessity, roles, and appropriate size of University-wide organizations shall be reviewed and consolidated or dissolved as necessary.

  • The roles of administrative organizations that support University-wide organizations shall be clearly defined, and their appropriate size shall be reassessed.

(3) Financial reforms
  • A fundamental review of the University's financial system shall be implemented, including the conventional fixed budget allocation to each administrative office and the annually-based budget usage system.

  • A thorough review of the central administration's fundamental budget shall be carried out. Funds shall then be allocated appropriately based on an evaluation of roles and operations.

  • Based on evaluations of the content and performance of initiatives, reviews shall be conducted as required of the budgets allocated to departments for various expenses (eg, function enhancement expenses, facility maintenance expenses, etc), and of the newly established fundamental budgets.

(4) Improvement of the personnel and salary system for administrative staff
  • Administrative staff salary increases and promotion shall not be based on a uniform seniority system, but on performance evaluation for clearly-defined job responsibilities. This will prevent negative effects, such as reversals of employment grade and salary, which can negatively impact employees' motivation.

  • Diverse career path options for staff members shall be introduced, and consideration will be given to the establishment of a system that enables staff to change their career path in accordance with their circumstances.

  • Regular employment positions for specially-contracted staff members (URAs, legal staff, technical staff, etc) will be established based on staff preferences and performance.

(5) Management and operation of the Kyoto University Hospital
  • By enhancing its ability to conduct and support clinical trials (including corporate-initiated clinical trials) through the Institute for Advancement of Clinical and Translational Science (iACT), the Kyoto University Hospital will assume a leadership role in advanced clinical research in Japan, which is presently lagging by international standards.

  • The Kyoto University Hospital will work closely with SACI to make the maximum use of University-funded and collaborative projects with companies, and it will strengthen its financial base by proactively launching businesses related to medical information and equipment development.

  • The system of assigning multiple duties to faculty members limits the implementation of hospital management and operations and the progress of initiatives. A fundamental review will be conducted to determine an appropriate system for the future, including the employment of key personnel, etc.

IV. Facilities

Plans to improve University facilities, including related funding plans, shall be reviewed and finalized.

(1) Campus master plans
  • Based on lessons learned from the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and expectations for the post-Covid-19 era, existing master plans for each campus shall be reviewed to improve the safety and functionality of all facilities. The improvement of facilities on Yoshida South Campus, which accommodates the largest number of students, is a particularly urgent issue.

(2) Kyoto University 125th Anniversary Project
  • Giving due consideration to the circumstances described in (1), above, the original plans for the Kyoto University 125th Anniversary Project shall be reviewed, and modified plans shall be promptly developed for highly necessary facilities, such as student support facilities, which are required to provide an internationally appealing campus environment.

V. Organizational Management

The responsibilities of organizational management at each level shall be clearly defined, and a system shall be established to foster the next generation of human capital for university management.

(1) Duties of deans and directors
  • The fact that deans and directors have primary responsibility for departmental management shall be made clear, their power of discretion shall be expanded, and a system shall be established to ensure that they can obtain all necessary University information. Accordingly, each department will be recommended to review the term of office of its dean or director.
(2) President and Board of Executive Directors
  • The President and the Board of Executive Directors are responsible for the development of the University-wide environment for education and research activities. In particular, they have the primary responsibility for the development and operation of University-wide organizations, and for personnel management and allocation in the Intramural Platform.

  • The Provost will select and manage the members of the Strategy Council, giving due consideration to the fostering of the next generation of human resources for University management.

VI. Fund-Raising Activities, Etc

To strengthen the University's financial base, administrative systems for fund-raising and alumni association activities shall be enhanced. A particular focus will be placed on fund-raising activities targeting individuals, in addition to companies. Vigorous efforts will be made to promote the systematization of regional alumni associations in Japan and overseas, parents' associations, and fan clubs, and to promote public relations activities by such organizations.


Nagahiro Minato
President, Kyoto University
5 March 2021