Conspicuous Internationalization? Creating an “International Communication Lounge” on a Japanese University Campus

Author: Adam Gyenes, Osaka University, Japan
Published: September 1, 2016

Citation: Gyenes, A. (2016). Conspicuous Internationalization? Creating an “International Communication Lounge” on a Japanese University Campus. IAFOR Journal of Education, 4(2).


Internationalization has become an important strategy for many Japanese universities as they face falling enrollments. While some have successfully attracted students from overseas, others seek different means by which to promote their international appeal, primarily as an attractor of domestic applicants. One way that this is highly visible is in the creation of international communication lounges on campuses: mediated spaces for intercultural exchange and language study that have developed out of the imported model of the self-access center. This ethnographic study looks at the establishment of an International Communication Lounge (ICL) at a private university on the outskirts of Tokyo, where exchange activities, open-access communication classes, and self-study facilities are provided to students in a casual setting. Phillips and Ochs (2003) four stages of policy borrowing in education are utilized as a framework to gain insight into the motivations of various stakeholders in the development of the facility. The ICL is shown to have had a positive impact on interest in international exchange programs and on motivation to study English among the small group of students who make use of the facility. Through this study, a microcosmic view of one university’s efforts to internationalize their campus is provided, and there is an impetus for further discussion on the value and implementation of self-access communication spaces on university campuses.


internationalization of higher education, Japanese universities, policy borrowing, self-access language learning, study abroad