Kyoto City University of Arts began with the establishment of Kyoto Prefectural School of Painting, Japan’s first public painting school. It took on the name Kyoto City University of Arts in 1969 after unifying with the Kyoto City Junior College of Music (established in 1952).
Currently, KCUA operates with a Faculty of Fine Arts and Graduate School, a Faculty of Music and Graduate School, and two research centers; The Research Center for Japanese Traditional Music and the Archival Research Center. With approximately 1000 students enrolled, our scale allows us to implement high-quality education in small class sizes, and a cross-cutting education in each department and major subject that goes above and beyond in all practical skills taught and classroom learning.
Since its establishment, KCUA has had a fundamental goal of internationalisation by “producing creative talent who are active internationally.” Arts universities should constantly strive to be free and open. They should be like a terrace; free of fences, and stimulating spaces rich in diversity of people coming and going. Having a view of Internationalisation and a global view is essential in this aspect.
In 2020, KCUA celebrated a 140-year milestone. In addition, in 2023, the entire campus will be relocating to the Shimogyoku area of Kyoto City. The move is a chance for the university to once again look outwards, accept diversity, and hone its power of expression. The principal keywords driving this will be a ‘globalized’ university of ‘internationalisation.’
In order for the goal KCUA has established for itself of “producing creative talent who are active internationally,” to attain a higher level, we have established an Internationalisation Policy, which is in effect for five years until the academic year of 2024. Based on this policy, we will now strive to promote exchange and cooperation between international arts schools and artists by supporting both students studying abroad and the acceptance of exchange students in Kyoto.
1 Expanding exchange agreements and strengthening ties with international schools
Every faculty in KCUA has its own area of individual specialization in education and research. Accordingly, we continue to bear in mind the importance that each faculty has its own policy towards exchanges. In order to foster international exchanges abundant in diversity, and in order to strengthen localities and fields which may have fallen behind in these initiatives, the university plans to provide general support, as this is more pragmatic and preferable.
The policies of each faculty regarding developing exchange agreements and strengthening ties with international schools are as follows:
- ● There are presently 11 schools in partnership with the Faculty of Fine Arts and Graduate School. We have already reached the limit in the amount of exchanges even with exchange plans strong in numbers. We plan to enter into new exchange agreements with schools in untapped countries like America and Germany. We also plan to make comprehensive decisions based on university level and scale, and compatibility of major subjects.
- ● There are 9 schools in partnership with the Faculty of Music and Graduate School. In order to strengthen ties with existing exchange schools, we plan to promote mutual visitations among faculty staff and implement joint projects like exchange concerts and special lectures.
- ● There are 3 schools in partnership with the Research Center for Japanese Traditional Music. We plan to promote exchange agreements through exchange between fellow researchers and accepting short-term research exchanges. Though the schools we have exchange agreements with are primarily in Europe and Western countries, we plan to look at a wider range of countries across the world, including Asia.
- ● With the Archival Research Center, we plan to foster bi-directional research exchange through inquiries with international archive organizations and research faculties in other universities.
2 Internationalizing the Education Environment
By inviting internationally active speakers and holding special lectures, We plan to offer the best education environment in the field of fine arts. Furthermore, inviting foreign artists and holding concerts and lectures will stimulate interest among students towards other countries, and promote studying abroad.
In addition, we plan to improve general English proficiency, and internationalize our teaching environment by further advancing the internationalization of our base teaching staff. We will also establish a new department whose function is for the promotion of receiving exchange students.
In regards to the university facilities after the relocation, we plan to adopt a diverse viewpoint beginning with the internationalization of names and titles.
3 Promotion of exchange with Japanese students
In recent years there has been a slowing or occasional decrease in numbers of Japanese students applying for exchange studying abroad. International exchange widens student outlooks, and is both an important chance for artists to grow, and a link to overseas possibilities after graduation.
In order to realize these initiatives for students to take an interest in international exchange, we plan to hold special classes with invited international lectures and hold concerts or workshops with international artists, creating places for more meaningful international exchange between students. We plan to exercise ingenuity in event frequency, methods and places in the promotion of artistic activities of international students who have come to study here. The internationalization of this art environment will also promote exchanges with Japanese students, and we aim for a higher level of achievement by “producing creative talent who are active internationally.”
4 Initiatives in maintaining acceptance systems and increasing numbers of international exchange with foreign students
At KCUA there are three exchange student systems; students who have come to acquire a degree (regular exchange students, etc.), research exchange students who have not come to obtain university credit, and exchange students who come in either the first or second semester on official exchange with their schools. A radical increase in exchange students for fixed periods (of 3 months or more) at KCUA would lead to difficulties considering the limits of spaces available for artistic activities within the university grounds and the university’s characteristically small classes. Having said so, an increase in Japanese students going overseas would relax these physical conditions and allow us to accept exchange students, so we plan initiatives intended to increase the acceptance of exchange students in operation with the promotion of international exchange with Japanese students. Furthermore, we are considering various exchange systems in response to the demand from international students, such as short-term programs for international students over the summer vacation and one-month international exchanges; we plan to move ahead with what is possible. We continue to maintain information dispersal targeting foreigners, and promote a more global view by offering easier to understand application procedures for foreign students wishing to sit the general entrance examinations.
In addition, there is a great interest in the Research Center for Japanese Traditional Music among international students, so we plan to promote the acceptance of exchanges where possible, as this is a duty we bear, being the only public research institution dedicated to traditional Japanese music.
In order to promote these initiatives, we will maintain an international multi-language website in English, offer multi-language materials, promote multi-language information boards within the university, establish Japanese courses, strengthen support systems for student livelihood, and promote a general atmosphere of acceptance within the university. In addition, we plan to link this to a strengthening of messaging for international audiences by offering multi-language transcriptions of PR activities like YouTube and SNS messaging.
5 Maintaining information of exchange achievements
Though KCUA has a long international history with the Royal College of Art in London and an exchange agreement spanning 30 years, it is hard to say whether these efforts have amounted to anything organically in use at this point in time.
In addition to receiving and sending students on exchange, we plan to facilitate access for teachers and students by documenting accomplishments made on exchange and disperse that information, thereby connecting the development of internationalization through creation and use of a mutual exchange student network.
6 Sharing research results with citizens
Taking into account our proximity with JR Kyoto Station after KCUA’s relocation, we plan to invite international academia and encourage our reception into the Japan Science Council. We also plan to encourage initiatives to share our research results cultivated through international exchange with local citizens.
7 Building and using a Kyoto University of Arts brand for an international audience
We plan to maximize our distinction as a public university with a long history supporting local citizens in Kyoto—a city of culture and arts with an unrivaled history—and build on and make use of our brand as an arts university in Kyoto.