Clues for my final project by chats in Week 5


After my first supervision last Friday, I had several opportunities to talk/brainstorm ideas for my final project. 

Premise: I am now curious why people sometimes choose what they are NOT interested in, especially in higher education.
More detail >>>  The last blog post on October  9

No.1 Talk with Josua

Soon after I shared a rough idea for my final project, he gave a surprising comment, “What you described is my life!” Coincidentally, I found the best person for my first interview. Until a while ago, I assumed the situation in which people chose their learning path without their interest was common only in my country. However, I realised it was also familiar in other areas.

(I’m a big fan of physical sticky notes, while I’m getting used to Miro 😂)

Through the interview with Josua, I found the following points were common in Indonesia and Japan.  

  • Difference between city and countryside
    • Students living in the city are more externally influenced than people in the countryside(e.g., High expectations to go to a good school). 
  • High expectations from parents
    • Some of them want to brag about their children to others.
  • Inevitability of thinking about money
    • Josua decided to join business school because of a scholarship. 
  • Don’t stop and go straight!
    • While some Western countries adopt the system of apprenticeship or allow people to take a break and think about their learning/career path, it is much rare in Indonesia and Japan. People are expected to go to university soon after graduating high school. Repeating the same grade or taking a rest while they are at the age supposed to be students could be a sign of “failure.” 
  • Scarce chance for students to consider their futures
    • They can’t even come up with ideas to take a break. 
    • They tend to follow what others do.

Josua also explained to me there were distinctions between ethnic groups, such as Chinese and Javanese culture in Indonesia. Although I found lots in common between Josua(Chinese-Indonesian) and me(Japanese) this time, there would also be differences between cultural and ethnic backgrounds. 

No.2 Talk with Jen

I talked with Jen in the drop-in session on Wednesday. I wanted to ask her about what happens in European countries. In the session, she told me the controversial news about “low-value degrees” in the U.K. 

The press release from the government
The article of The Guadian

Simply put, the prime minister announced that the government would cap the number of students when a faculty doesn’t produce graduate outcomes that support the economy. I got worried that it would encourage people to learn for money, sometimes not allowing them to pursue their pure interest. Considering it is discussed in the U.K., I may be able to ask my question to European(at least the U.K.) countries. 



Throughout exploring this week, I have been convinced that the issue I want to dig into is universal, not just a problem in Japan. Next week, I will continue to have interviews/brainstorming with my classmates who grew up in different cultures, and read more about what Jen and Yuemiao told me. 

4 Replies to “Clues for my final project by chats in Week 5”

  1. Hi Meiko, thanks for sharing those links in your blog. It seems concerning to me as well that they are categorizing degrees as “low-value.” Makes me wonder how they determine what is low value and why that is even needed? How does a low value degree impact the economy? And then, what harm does this approach create? This is interesting and concerning….

    1. Hi Ramona 🙂 Your questions gave me other inspirations!

      It seems impossible to know how much each degree impacts the economy because the impact could be various(direct/indirect or short-term/long-term). Also even if a person graduated from a course of “high-value” degrees(maybe such as business or computer science 🤔), it doesn’t mean that they would surely be able to make a positive impact on the economy and society(I saw an article that criticized the “low-value” degrees policy because some politicians who have prestigious business degrees sometimes deteriorated the whole economy of the country 😂)

  2. That sounds like a fruitful mini scoping study you undertook there – I can sense your excitement and emerging clarity for your project plans! Lots to uncover there, I imagine, about culture, educational systems, economic systems and their entanglement. In Austria, gap years aren’t as common as I think they are in the UK, but a lot of hope for increased access to opportunities, to increased prestige and increased economic success tied to attending university (which is why open access to university, without fees or grade requirements for entry) are still held onto (temporary introduction of fees had to be revoked because of immense public opposition). So, while I would say there is social prestige attached to going to university, there is less of a general expectation/pressure to do so, and for the time being, no differentiation is made regarding fees between ‘profit-promising’ and other studies.

    1. Anna, thank you for leaving such a meaningful and interesting comment. It definitely got me curious about what happens in the system, and what you have personally experienced in Austria. I would like to listen to your story more, so please let me reach out to you later.

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