University of Lethbridge creating, maintaining links to Japan through agreements

The University of Lethbridge has strengthened its ties with Japan through the signing of a number of agreements recently, extending a 35-year history of collaboration with Hokkai-Gakuen University and creating a new dual degree program with Gakushuin Women’s College.

The dual degree program partnership with Gakushuin Women’s College is a first for the U of L and is actually the fifth partnered program the University has entered into with Gakushuin since the two institutions first partnered in March 2014.

A new dual degree relationship with Gakushuin Women's College is a first for the U of L. Pictured are (L to R) University Chancellor Janice Varzari, U of L President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Mike Mahon, Gakushuin President Yasuharu Ishizawa, and Keiichi Hatakeyama, Gakushuin vice-president.

The dual degree program is a pilot project through the Faculty of Arts & Science that will see an initial student enrolled in Fall 2016, followed by up to five students beginning in Fall 2017. The program enables students to pursue coordinated studies at both the U of L and Gakushuin and, if successful, be awarded a degree from each institution.

“This initiative will build on the success of our relationship with Gakushuin Women's College, offering an opportunity for their students to complete the first stage of their schooling in Japan, then transition to the U of L to experience the culture and opportunities here, before finally going back to Japan to complete their Gakushuin degree,” says Dr. Jackie Rice, the University’s associate dean, Faculty of Arts & Science.

Students must complete a minimum of three semesters at each institution as full-time students over the course of the five-year program. These students will then be able to earn both a U of L degree as well as a Gakushuin degree.

“These students will become University of Lethbridge alumni, and we hope they will continue to spread the word of the opportunities we have to offer,” says Rice. “This is a unique opportunity, and it provides a structure to support a novel experience outside of their own culture while allowing them to also build their academic career.”

The U of L delegation also signed a trio of agreements with longtime partner Hokkai-Gakeun University.

“The relationship we have with Hokkai-Gakuen, dating back to 1981, is a very significant part of the U of L’s history,” says U of L President Dr. Mike Mahon. “The exchanges our students and faculty members have been able to participate in have provided invaluable experiences, promoted cross-cultural understanding and really fostered a sense of global citizenship on campus.”

Mahon and the University inked three new agreements with Hokkai-Gakuen, extending both the faculty exchange and summer student exchange programs and establishing a broad collaborative agreement that seeks to see the institutions develop academic areas of mutual interest.

Over the 35-year history of the University’s relationship with Hokkai-Gakuen, 194 Canadian students have visited the Japanese university through the summer exchange program and 267 students have come to the U of L from Sapporo. Likewise, 67 U of L faculty members have gone to Japan with 55 Japanese professors coming to Canada.