Saitama University and UD officials meet to sign an agreement and discuss future plans. Pictured are (from left) Yoshihiko Kamii, president of Saitama University; Masahiro Nagata, director of the Office of International Affairs; George Watson, dean of UD's College of Arts and Sciences; and UD President Patrick Harker.

Saitama partnership

UD agreement with Saitama University fosters international partnerships

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4:14 p.m., Jan. 28, 2014--A new agreement between the University of Delaware and Japan’s Saitama University, signed Jan. 27 at UD, is designed to expand the cultural horizons and foreign language capabilities of students at both institutions.

Under the agreement, UD’s prestigious English Language Institute (ELI) will provide short-term language immersion programs for Saitama students over the next five years. Also offered will be a bridge program, whereby Saitama students can study English as a Second Language (ESL) part time at the ELI, while concurrently taking one to two UD credit courses through the Division of Professional and Continuing Studies.

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Additionally, through a special pathway program, well-qualified Saitama students can, after completing a semester of intensive language study at the ELI, enroll in UD as full time matriculated students for one to two semesters.

ELI is an academic unit within the College of Arts and Sciences; as such Dean George Watson and ELI Director Scott Stevens signed the agreement establishing relations while Saitama President Yoshihiko Kamii and other college officials attended.

“The University of Delaware prepares students to be global citizens, to learn from their experiences with other cultures and use their knowledge to improve communities around the world,” UD President Patrick Harker said. “We are honored to expand our partnership with Saitama University and look forward to welcoming many more of its students to campus."

Harker received a vase with painted cranes, a symbol of longevity in partnership. This is the first time that this gift was offered to an American university, signifying the importance of the collaboration.

“Saitama University is striving to educate students and be active in the global community,” said Kamii. “I am sure that UD can help our students to grow as global citizens, especially considering the location of the university and the excellence of its faculty and staff.”

The supplemental agreement is key to motivating Japanese students to study abroad to learn English language skills, and also to create a network of friends and acquaintances internationally.

The Japanese Ministry of Education is working with select national universities to provide scholarships for innovative study abroad initiatives and Saitama received a grant.

“The agreement with the ELI is important because it will be a positive and supportive first step for Japanese students,” said Matthew Kinservik, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Stevens and Kinservik traveled to Saitama last fall and brought with them a general agreement signed by Harker that formalized the UD-SU partnership. Along with the general agreement, an agreement was also signed designed to promote political science exchange programs.

Saitama University, located in the greater metropolitan region of Tokyo, is ranked 64 out of 739 Japanese universities. It competed for and successfully won a position in the “Global 30 Project,” where the top 30 applicants received funding to help stimulate study abroad programs in undergraduate and graduate students. 

“We are looking to diversify our student body and would love to have more Japanese students on campus. This initiative presents an opportunity to do that,” said Stevens. “There are some innovative projects that could come of this and new approaches to international student and faculty collaborations.”

The ELI is exploring the opportunity to expand the partnership and is looking to offer English courses at Saitama taught by ELI faculty. 

Founded in 1979, ELI offers intensive English programs for degree-seeking students, business and legal professionals, English language teachers and English language learners.

Described as one of the “top 10” intensive English programs in the United States, ELI is fully accredited by the Commission on English Program Accreditation, one of only 49 intensive English programs in the U.S., out of more than 1,000, to have earned such a distinction.

Article by Elizabeth Adams

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