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December 15, 2004

Ground-Breaking Akita Int'l University

Yesterday's Daily Yomiuri included a feature on Akita International University, believed to be the first Japanese university to conduct all classes in English. The prefectural government-run school opened in April, taking over the campus used for 13 years by Minnesota State University Akita. That school held all classes in English, but as a school affiliated with a US institute, it was not granted university status by the government. It had a very high drop-out rate of almost half of all students.

AIU had an applicant-to-place ratio of almost 16:1, and ended up accepting 134 students, more than its original quota of 100. This includes about 30 foreign exchange students from the US, Mongolia and China. All students are also required to spend the first year in the university dorm and study for at least a year at one of several affiliated universities overseas. Students are grouped into classes of about 15 based on their TOEFL scores. They have a heavy daily workload of assignments and take the TOEFL test every two months or so. AIU President Mineo Nakajima says he believes the average score has already reached about 530. The more than 20 non-Japanese teachers make up over 60% of the total faculty.
English-language university breaks mold (link will expire)

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