Global Campus of the University of Tokyo

International Affairs Division 2021-07-20 636

The University of Tokyo (Japanese: とうきょうだいがく), or UTokyo (Japanese: とうだい), is a comprehensive national university located in Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan.

In 1877 during the Meiji Restoration, UTokyo was founded by amalgamating Tokyo Kaisei School and Tokyo Medical School. With four faculties, i.e., Law, Science, Letters, and Medicine, and a university preparatory school, it was Japan’s first national comprehensive university. Some of its departments date back to the era of Emperor Reigen (9 July 1654 – 24 September 1732). It was renamed “Imperial University” and became the first imperial university in the country in 1886, and renamed “Tokyo Imperial University” in 1887. In September 1947 after World War II, it was officially named “The University of Tokyo”.

As of the end of 2021, among its alumni, UTokyo has 11 Novel Prize laureates, 6 Wolf Prize receivers, 1 Fields Medal winner, 16 Japanese prime ministers, and 21 Speakers of the National Diet of Japan.

UTokyo in the world’s most authoritative university rankings:

  • 2021QS = 24
  • 2021THE = 36
  • 2021CWUR = 36
  • 2020ARWU = 26

UTokyo betters its peers across Japan.

1. Establishment of Global Campus Model

In 2001, Japan carried out revolution to enhance its universities’ international competitiveness.

In 2014, Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) launched the “Top Global University Project” (TGUP) for the purposes of developing world-leading education and research, advancing comprehensive internationalization, and leading the globalization of Japanese society.

In 2014, UTokyo initiated “Constructing a Global Campus Model” under the framework of the TGUP.

2. Structure of the Global Campus Model

2.1 Six highlights

1) World-class, cutting-edge research that takes place in a wide range of academic fields 

2) A comprehensively reformed education system suitable for the modern Globalization Era 

3) A wide range of degree programs and courses throughout the curriculum available in English 

4) A high- level of research and teaching carried out in Japanese, and courses in languages other than English taking place systematically 

5) A diverse environment where academic and administrative staff and students of the University can teach, research and work together regardless of culture, language, gender, and age while mutually understanding each other. 

6) An organization put into place that supports the Global Campus, and where staff with high levels of knowledge and competency is placed throughout the University 


2.2 Three undertakings

1) To form global partnerships

A. Strategic partnerships

Strategic partnerships are developed globally with high levels of mutual trust to share advantages and interests for extensive, longstanding, strategic and far-reaching mutually-beneficial cooperation and coordinated development.

B. Global team-based partnerships

Based on strategic partnerships, partnerships with industrial and academic communities are established for advanced experimental study projects, systematic experiment studies, education and practice to solve complex multidisciplinary problems, and team-based projects’ incorporation into university curriculum.

C. Academic partnerships

General cooperation through mutual exchange programs and academic visits for students and researchers.

2) To create a global discourse system

A global discourse system to resonate with the global multilingual environment and support the Global Campus Model by using a variety of languages to teach and accommodate differences. 

[Trilingual Program]: A diverse discourse system featuring the use of English, Japanese, and a third language as supplementary.


3) To organize and regulate the Global Campus Initiatives

The Division for Global Campus Initiatives is a core platform that facilitates planning and implementing of a Global Campus that underpins its sustainable buildup and development.

A two-level structure of “an internal organizational management system + overseas offices” with separate responsibilities but concerted efforts to take actions to ensure its international compatibility and organizational operation.

[Internal organizational management system]


An internal administrative system comprised of departments to devise the Global Campus Initiatives and agencies to conduct operation has been established, including the Advocacy Committee, the Global Advisory Committee, and the Global Campus Administration (governing the Global Campus Advocacy Office, the Global Leadership Education Program Promotion Office, 30 Undergraduate Admissions Offices globally, and the International Affairs Department), for all of which the President of UTokyo is directly responsible. Among them, the International Affairs Department promotes international communication and cooperation of the whole university. The Global Advisory Committee has members from across the global academic, industrial and political communities, and its board of directors make decisions concerning the development of the Global Campus. Also, all faculties, graduate schools, and research institutes of UTokyo have their own offices for international relations and communication to deliver a diverse range of international activities ranging from extensive cooperation to specific cooperation, such as international support, liaison, and academic exchanges.

[Overseas offices]


UTokyo has set up overseas offices in collaboration with different institutions including general offices, coordination bureaus, affairs departments, research institutes, etc., mainly to manage bilateral international cooperation. But some of them also undertake important research projects (such as restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem, archaeological work, and cosmic radiation study). These offices also conduct management-staff exchange with UTokyo, and provide staff members with international training. So far, UTokyo has set up 33 overseas offices in 19 countries, 15 of which are based in China and the United States.


3. To devise the Global Campus Action Plan

3.1 Global courses

To create a global learning environment to unlock students’ potential, UTokyo offers courses including off-line global English courses and massive open online courses (MOOCs), for students to acquire foreign knowledge and develop a global vision.

[Global Unit Courses]

Programs in English at Komaba (PEAK) and Global Science Course (GSC)

The “Global Japan Studies (GJS)” program at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia

The “Special English Lessons (SEL)” program at the Graduate School of Engineering



MOOCs developed in collaboration with Coursera and edX

Nearly 5,000 courses provided by 278 international partners

Flipped classrooms combining online with in-person instructions


3.2 Global academic and research projects

UTokyo promotes diverse interdisciplinary projects with specific themes and presents them as a shared action, including strategic partnerships projects as well as short-term exchange projects.

[Strategic partnerships projects]

Strategic partnerships projects signed with strategic partners are aimed at carrying out global cutting-edge academic research. With the comprehensive mutually beneficial relations with strategic partners, UTokyo holds regular academic activities to enhance international and inter-field mobility of its scholars.

[Short-term cooperation and exchange projects]

UTokyo provides students with opportunities to have short-term exchange experience in different cities abroad to meet their various learning needs on a Global Campus.

Faculty members and students of UTokyo and other overseas universities co-conduct lectures, field visits, discussions, off-campus activities, research reports, and speeches over specific topics such as global life, language learning, bilateral relations, etc.


3.3 Global mobility of scholars

UTokyo encourages free mobility of scholars of the Global Campus around the world, which is conducive to a fluid global learning pattern. This action strategy is best reflected in the University-wide Student Exchange Program (USTEP) and Top Global Scholars Visiting UTokyo[Info:].


UTokyo accepts exchange students from partner universities, and provides them with Type-U (Undergraduate) language courses and Type-G (Graduate) specialized courses.

International academic conferences are also an important part of the global mobility of scholars, with an increasingly expanding scope that has stretched far beyond partner universities.

[Top Global Scholars Visiting UTokyo]

Top global scholars visiting UTokyo to lecture and communicate with its faculty members and students to enhance its excellence, mobility, and diversity as part of the Top Global University Project. Some of these top scholars have received the Fields Medal, the Kavli Prize, the Nobel Prize, etc., are internationally-renowned and well-noted scholars from world-class universities, most of whom are from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Russia.

Top Global Scholars Visiting UTokyo is witnessing a trend of receiving scholars of higher levels, in broader areas, and in a more frequent fashion and an exchange mechanism is taking shape, where more group visits and proactive visits take place, making it a platform where scholars from across the globe are gathered.

3.4 A diverse campus culture

By holding various Global Campus events, UTokyo aims to globalize its campus culture and extracurricular activities apart from its research and academic efforts so that a truly globalized campus becomes a reality.


4. Review by the author

Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) and UTokyo can learn from each other as they share the East Asian culture.

UTokyo has made a detailed classification for its partnerships, which is conducive to cooperation.

It focuses not only on English, the global language, but also other foreign languages.

It has a well-structured regulatory organization.

UTkoyo favors universities in the following two kinds in its international communication: first, ones in developed countries for their state-of-the-art research experience; second, ones in neighboring countries for easier and more frequent communication.

Its efforts to promote top global scholars’ visits help showcase best academic research outcomes and attract more international students.

To globalize its campus culture, the process is not a continuum but sees various cultural activities on all corners of the Global Campus. In such an inclusive and diverse campus, students can increase global and cultural competencies. 

Cooperation between SJTU and UTokyo

The International Affairs Division at SJTU has been striving to promoting substantive communication and cooperation with UTokyo. The relationship between SJTU and UTokyo began after China’s reform and opening-up. In 2003, SJTU signed an agreement with the Faculty of Engineering of UTokyo for student exchange programs. In February 2006, the then SJTU President XIE Shengwu signed a letter of intent for mutual exchanges with the then UTokyo President Komiyama Hiroshi during his visit to UTokyo, ushering in a new era for intercollegiate exchanges. In the year that followed, SJTU Graduate School renewed its student exchange agreement with the Faculty of Engineering of UTokyo. On December 9th, 2011, SJTU and UTokyo signed separate agreements for intercollegiate cooperation and student exchange programs. Most recently, on February 7th, 2015, the then UTokyo President Hamada Junichi was awarded the SJTU honorary doctoral degree during his visit to SJTU.


ZHANG Jie, former President of SJTU, was invited to visit UTokyo in July 2016 where he was well received. UTokyo spoke highly of the rapid changes in Chinese universities including SJTU, and was proactive to set out plans for substantive cooperation with SJTU. During his visit to UTokyo, President Zhang and his entourages had an in-depth discussion with the then President of UTokyo, Gonokami Makoto, and other personnel, and both sides expressed their strong willingness for cooperation and reached consensus over talent development and scientific research. In addition, President Zhang was invited to deliver a speech to the top- and middle-level management staff of UTokyo  at its famous Yasuda Auditorium. This was the first time that an SJTU President was invited to deliver a speech at UTokyo , and few from other Chinese universities had done so before, which led to closer relations between the two universities thereafter. On April 23rd, 2019, when DING Kuiling, Executive Vice President of SJTU, and his entourages were visiting UTokyo, they exchanged ideas with Shirahase Sawako, Executive Vice President responsible for International Cooperation and Communication of UTokyo, over further cooperation between the two sides. In September 2019, UTokyo sent 28 students to join the 2019 SJTU Chinese and Japanese Youth Elite Program, a two-week summer camp organized by SJTU. At present, SJTU is negotiating with UTokyo for dual doctoral programs.


About the author

Mr. CAI Yuping,  Deputy Director of SJTU Center for Japanese Studies has been working at the SJTU International Affairs Division since July 1990. He was in charge of affairs about alumni in  Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and beyond. In October 1998, he was sent to Japan with government sponsorship. Since his return to China in June, 2002, he has been working on communication with Japanese and South Korean universities.



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