Awards Announced for the 2018 FUTI Global Leadership and Ito Foundation U.S.A. Scholarship Programs

Friends of UTokyo, Inc. (FUTI) offers two types of scholarship programs: The Global Leadership Program and the Ito Foundation U.S.A.-FUTI Scholarship Program. For more details regarding the programs please visit or The Chair of the FUTI Scholarship Committee, Dr. Shigenori Matsushita, comments about this year’s results, “I am convinced that each donor’s support encourages aspiring students to attain their goals and, as a result, helps, directly and indirectly, the globalization of UTokyo. We have high expectations for our award students.” He believes that these efforts ultimately contribute to the improvement of global and Japanese society.
The following is a report on this year’s selection results.
[FUTI Global Leadership Award]
This year FUTI will award FUTI Global Leadership Awards to 12 students from U.S. universities planning to study at the University of Tokyo, and 6 students from UTokyo to study at U.S. universities, both in the summer of 2018.

2016 Final Number of Recipients 2017 Final Number of Recipients 2018 Final Number of Recipients
U.S. → UTokyo 9 10 12
UTokyo → U.S. 6 8 6

This year we have seen the following trends with applications:
The number of UTokyo students applying to FUTI programs remains static, whereas U.S. students interested in studying at UTokyo continue to increase.  A couple of interpretations are possible about the UTokyo students.

  • The reason for the sluggish application trends may be that UTokyo’s study abroad program has substantially improved so that students no longer need support from outside sources, such as FUTI. If that is the case, the trend can be interpreted as positive.
  • Another reason may be a calendar mismatch between summer school programs at U.S. universities and UTokyo. Many of the former start in July, while at UTokyo the spring term’s final exam period ends at the close of July. In this circumstance, UTokyo students aspiring to study at US summer schools may suffer from certain inconveniences, such as making an arrangement with the professor about missing/re-arranging the final exam timing.

Two main reasons are conceivable for the increase of U.S. students’ applications to FUTI programs, which is a positive trend for the globalization of UTokyo. Students look for support from FUTI when they are not able to obtain sufficient financial aids from their programs.

  • The University of California (UC) system is strengthening the UC Education Abroad Program (UCEAP). As a result, an increasing number of UC students signed up for the summer internship programs in science and engineering at UTokyo.
  • In collaboration with Harvard University, UTokyo has recently established the International Research Center for Neurointelligence (IRCN). The program will host a number of Harvard interns at UTokyo this year and several UTokyo students at Harvard next year.

[Ito Foundation U.S.A.-FUTI Scholarship]
The Ito Foundation U.S.A.-FUTI Scholarship began in 2016 with financial support from the Ito Foundation U.S.A. The number of scholarship students from 2016 to 2018 is shown below.

Current Program/Year in FUTI Program 2016 2017 2018 2018 Host Universities
2nd Year in Ito-FUTI Award Program 4 3 UC Berkeley (UCB), Tulane, Princeton
UTokyo Bachelor’s/Master’s Program 3 2 2 U of Washington, UCB
(Soon to graduate from) UTokyo Undergraduate or Master’s Program 2 1 2 Princeton, MIT
Alumni 3 1 1 Yale
UTokyo PhD Program 1 2 2 SUNY-Stony Brook, U of Penn
IF Ikuei Scholarship 1 UCB
US student 1 UTokyo
Total 9 10 12

We have identified the following trends.
#1. From the pool of high-caliber applicants, we have so far selected 12 students for awards.
Before the final decision, they were interviewed by members of the FUTI Scholarship Committee who found them all as having a clear sense of purpose in life and many speaking fluent English. They appear to be highly promising.
#2. It was made clear to us that applicants were applying to more than one scholarship program to choose the offer most suited to their plans. This may be an indication that in Japan, financial aid for studying abroad has become more plentiful.
Three of our award recipients also receive support from a program called
“Tobitate! Let’s go abroad representing Japan.”  This program is managed by Nihon Gakusei Shien Kiko, a semi-governmental agency, which pools donation from for-profit corporations and provide financial support to students desiring to study abroad.
#3. As shown in the second to last row in the table, we established a new category of scholarship programs, “IF Ikuei Scholarship.” IF stands for “Ito Foundation USA and FUTI.”
The selection criteria of this program focus strongly on the clarity of purpose in life and leadership potential evidenced in the application as well as the recommendation. The applicant’s academic performance and English proficiency are not considered in the evaluation as long as sufficient aptitude is demonstrated for undertaking the proposed study. This program is open to UTokyo and non-UTokyo applicants, but this year we have selected a UTokyo student as he was most qualified in the application pool.
Whether or not this new program and selection criteria have merit in view of the program goals is yet to be proven through the test of time.  Going forward, we are keen on finding answers to questions such as: “Does the student learn much from a study abroad?” and “Is our judgment of his/her character correct?”
#4. The last row of the chart represents an Ito-FUTI award given to a U.S. student for the first time.
The student, an undergraduate at Princeton, has been selected on the basis of our expectation for his contribution to the Japanese research community.  He believes that while the diversity of researchers is essential for cutting edge research, non-Japanese students/researchers can contribute to increase diversity and strengthen the global professional network. The student plans to study Japanese further and enroll himself in a graduate school in science at UTokyo. We will continue to evaluate carefully the role of non-Japanese students/researchers in the globalization of the UTokyo campus.

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