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New graduate school feeling its way toward 2012 opening

Date Posted: 2008-08-15

A steering committee preparing for Okinawa Technological Graduate University’s opening in four years has its hands full, sorting through dozens of issues that include everything from funding to recruiting a world class staff and faculty.

The school is developing its operational framework, and just held a conference in Tokyo to get ideas on how best to merge the concepts of a private university with the necessity of drawing government funding. Some problems are anticipated, university leaders concede, but say the Okinawa Technical Graduate University will be the very best in Japan.

“We’re inviting the top people and excellent professors (to join our faculty and staff),” the steering committee says, “so we need to give them enough of a budget, and need to create rules that are very flexible and give them freedom for study.” The committee is working with the central government and with Okinawa Prefecture to obtain a satisfactory level of funding, and is developing corporate and university rules.

“We don’t give support for nothing,” the government is already cautioning the steering committee. “We are not going to support the university forever, and if the university becomes popular and draws students from all over the world, we need to make this university a private system, education leaders in Tokyo say. They are advising the new school to “study other business schools’ systems, and look to private companies who can invest money or donate money, or the school itself should make the students pay enough to cover the costs for having high grade professors.”

The central government has pledged it is “just helping at the beginning, until the school is on track for economical recovery. After that, the school will have to go by itself.” Education officials say the new school must plant seeds now, because “we need to see results after five years operations, and then look to the future. If nothing comes out, that’s the end of the money.”

The university is supposed to open in 2012. The steering committee is now wrestling with finding 30 professors with outstanding qualifications, and then getting the town surrounding the school set up to handle them. University officials say they new town must attract business-related industries and employees, modeling the community after successful American cities such as Boston.

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