If you could spend five minutes with anyone from the international education sector, who would it be and what would you ask them? Introducing The PIE’s latest series, Five Minutes With… where we speak to leaders from across the sector and ask them all the big questions.
Hailing from Kazakhstan, Serik Meirmanov made his way into the Japanese higher education sector and cemented his work at the centre of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Beppu’s international education strategy. A graduate from a Japanese university himself, his experiences as an international student influence his job every day. After a busy NAFSA, he chatted to The PIE.
What was your first job in international education?
My first job was at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, where I am now. I started as associate professor for the public health management graduate program. I’m now dean of academic affairs at the same institution.
What do you like most about your job?
While being a dean of academic affairs comes along with a lot of responsibilities and challenges, it gives a sense of fulfilment and contribution to shape the educational experience for students, and provide opportunities for the professional growth of faculty members.
If you had a magic wand, what would you change?
If I had a magic wand, I would make it so that every person in need has a magic wand. In other words, I mostly just wish that in societies around the world, each vulnerable individual – especially children – would have equal opportunities, such as access to education and good healthcare.
What are your top five priorities?
I think… fairness in decision making; respect for the other people’s opinions and empathy; continuous self-development – mental, spiritual, and physical; meaningful relationships with family and friends; and positive attitude and resilience.
Best work trip?
We did a field trip with students, where they performed surveys for their program research, in the UK. It was great to see how Japanese language base students utilise their English and research skills in communicating with locals in London.
“Maintaining attractiveness for students is one of the most important issues”
How did you discover the international education sector?
An international education program allowed me, after graduating from the University in Kazakhstan, to go and gain a PhD degree in Japan. This experience helped me realise the benefits of an international education. Since then, my interest has evolved into research and now, through the nature of my work, I am directly involved in the process of promoting international education at our university.
One student’s life changing story?
It’s a real circle of life. One of my students, during my lectures, became interested in health science and chose a career in healthcare. She went to medical school, completed her PhD and gained experience at another university, and now she will be teaching the same subject in the same lecture hall that influenced her career.
Biggest challenge to your profession?
Navigating the higher education in Japan is probably the biggest challenge, due to the decreasing number of children; the country is experiencing a period of increasing competition. Therefore, maintaining attractiveness for students is one of the most important issues.
What is the best international education conference and why?
For us, the international collaboration provided by NAFSA, EAIE and APAIE is key. They are conferences that really provide a platform for experts from higher education institutions to communicate about internationalisation and students’ mobility.
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