JSPS Quarterly
No.21 2007 Autumn Topics
First Round of Grants Awarded under Global COE Program


It is imperative that Japanese universities carry out their education and research programs on a par with top-level universities around the world. This will require that the country's national, public and private universities improve their competitive capacities by introducing third-part assessments of their programs, and that they vie with each other in enhancing the excellence of those programs. As part of the government's effort to advance university reform in this direction, in FY 2002 the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) inaugurated the "21st Century COE Program" to support the establishment of world-class education and research hubs within Japanese universities with an eye to raising their competitiveness to the highest world level. Since then, the 21st Century COE Program has worked well to advance university reform, foster talented young researchers and pioneer new academic fields, while elevating the standard of university research.

Based on the recommendation in a September 2005 report on graduate education issued by MEXT's Central Council for Education and on the government's third S&T Basic Plan, enacted in March 2006, it was decided that another step needed to be taken to meet the growing challenges of advancing globalization and info-proliferation—that a post-21st Century COE Program initiative would be required to foster researchers with an even higher level of international capabilities.

Accordingly, MEXT established the "Global COE Program," which was launched from FY 2007. This new program is designed to create world-leading centers of education and research excellence in new and/or interdisciplinary fields, which will work to dramatically strengthen the university's function of educating young researchers capable of playing active international roles in various sectors of society including industry.

JSPS has formed a Global COE Program Committee within its organization to screen grant applications and assess funded projects. It is assisted in carrying out these functions by the National Institution for Academic Degrees and University Evaluation, the Promotion and Mutual Aid Corporation for Private Schools of Japan, and the Japan University Accreditation Association.


The Global COE Program provides prioritized funding support for the purpose of establishing within graduate schools of Japanese universities internationally attuned education and research centers that perform at the apex of global excellence. The objective is to strengthen and enhance the education and research functions of graduate programs, while building within them a research infrastructure of the highest world standard upon which to foster highly creative young researchers who will go on to become world leaders in their respective fields.

Review Policy

Applications are submitted for center-building programs within doctoral-level graduate departments of Japanese national, public and private universities. They must meet the following requirements to be eligible for funding.

1) A plan must be formulated for establishing an internationally excellent education/research base within the university's doctoral program. It should embody a future scheme for developing the university reflecting its unique institutional character and be given powerful instruments for implementing the program under a management framework led by the university president.

2) After the five years of funding ends under the Global COE Program, the university's COE should be able to continue operation as an internationally excellent education/research base, carrying out its activities independently without interruption.

3) The COE program should not take the form of a research project, but should be implemented as an initiative to build an education/research base that functions to foster highly capable young researchers. To do this, the center must be able to advance original, cutting-edge work by building a world-standard research infrastructure upon which to pioneer novel and innovative scientific domains. The plan must also embody a scheme for future program expansion.

Two other criteria must be met under the following conditions:

1) If the proposed COE was previously established under the "21st Century COE Program," it must have already achieved the expected results under that framework.

2) If the applying university wishes to implement its COE program in cooperation with other institutes (internal and/or external), it must formulate a clear concept of both its own and the proposed COE's future development, and show why cooperation with other institutes is necessary to realizing that concept.

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JSPS Quarterly No.21 2007