MBA Program in International Business Graduate School of Business Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences University of Tsukuba, Japan

1. Comprehensive Review

Branding/marketing – action plans aimed at increasing visibility of the program and achievement of the faculty in research via a stronger web presence appear to have been successful. In conjunction with the commitment to Open Campus events (including online events), the resulting maintenance of the application to enrolments ratio of 3:1 is to be commended. This achievement is even more noteworthy under the conditions of the pandemic, and the School’s ability to rapidly adjust to providing an online Open Campus event has clearly shown the readiness of the management and faculty to apply their skills in an agile and responsive way.
MBA-IB program of University of Tsukuba is good in marketing outreach. The brand is well known.
The number of applicants is greater than the number of admitted students who have a chance to study according to limited seats. For knowledge contribution, the MBA-IB provides the short program to support the lifelong learning. It will be great if it can count as cumulative credits for the full-time students who study at their own pace.
Overall, the school has taken necessary actions and as the intake capped at 30. There should not be an issue with reaching their target. No issue on this action plan.

Industry outreach – the Outreach Committee had strong initial success under the early stages of the Action Plan. Understandably the COVID-19 context has tested their ability to carry out the full Action Plan. While it is certainly true that the business context is not highly supportive of building new relationships/collaborations and that potential industry partners have many urgent priorities, it will be important for the school to consider how it might be able to support the continuation of industry outreach, especially since the pandemic is proving to be quite protracted.
Company visits leveraging on the network of alumni and faculty members are effective. It will be the long-term collaboration strategy if the MBA-IB program can push the establishment of the business alumni network formally.
The MBA-IB program can support the companies’ need to enhance their human resource development and gain new knowledge from research supporting competitiveness under changing environment. It will be fruitful for both the MBA-IB program and companies; if the school creates additional regulations, such as allowing the students in the extension program to accumulate credits that can be also used in the full-time MBA-IB program, this may attract the students to join the fulltime program later.
Overall, the output of the action plan is highly commendable. Engagement with Industry generates income for the school, and also positively impacts the companies.

Faculty Development and Research Performance Enhancement – multiple inputs in this area of the School’s Action Plan appear to have come together to produce solid outcomes. The TESSA performance evaluation tool and clear metrics have made it easier for faculty to map their success and plan for improved performance. The processes put in place to support the number of faculty applying for grants, which include senior faculty and those who have successfully applied for grants, also seem to have produced good results – 100% of faculty making applications for grants.
Even though the MBA-IB program has new criteria to evaluate faculty research performance, interviews with faculty members indicate that they need to participate in the setting of evaluation criteria, because it will help them to share their ideas and their needs in terms of effectiveness, and plan their development. Teaching, research, academic services and student advices related to the criteria can be conductive to a more efficient realization of the vision and mission of the school.
The MBA-IB program sends faculty members to relevant training programs on teaching or research, which helps them to develop new ideas on research and education methods, and also provides English language training for faculty members. Interviews with supporting staff members indicate that they also need English language training to help them better communicate with students and international professors.
It is clear that the action plan has been executed well. During the PRT visit matters have been clarified, and it is normal that during the pandemic the plans need to be adjusted. No issue on this action plan.

Educational Programs – despite the curriculum policy documents being in Japanese, the outline provided in the self-evaluation report provided a detailed overview of the key elements of curriculum, course outcomes and delivery, and the Handbook (4.3 in the supporting documents) provided an excellent overview. The curriculum looks highly appropriate for producing graduates with skills that enable them to manage in the international business context. In particular, the program’s commitment to work-integrated learning seems to be very strong, with a focus on practice subjects and business projects to augment and extend the in-class theory-practice learning experience. Research indicates that graduate employability is supported by these experiences within business programs, and so it is good to see the extent of this type of learning across the program.
The initiative to hold hybrid open campus events is appropriate as it allows more students to join the learning opportunity event. The MBA-IB program invested in purchasing equipment for online communication, in line with the current developments when teaching, learning and working need more flexibility. But the school needs to support faculty, staff members and students who are using their personal hardware and other resources when working online.
The MBA-IB is concerned about the students’ mental health, and provides necessary support to meet their needs. Interviews with students indicate that they aim at high performance and ready to work hard to reach their learning goal. The advisors support the students who face issues with their studies. It will be great if the MBA-IB program can increase the number and ability of academic supporting staff to respond to students’ requests and solve their daily life problems faster.
The MBA-IB program has a systematic process to review the curriculum policy and the diploma policy based on stakeholder participation. Since MBA-IB is an international program with a diverse student body, the program should show the information on the elective courses that are taught in Japanese in advance, so that the students applying to the program can plan the development of their Japanese language skills as well.
Overall, there is no issue pertaining to this action plan. It has been satisfactorily addressed by the school.

The School’s Feedback:

Thank you for your assessment.

PRT Responses:

Feedback is positive.

2. Dramatic Quality Improvement


Both Branding/Marketing and Faculty Development and Research Performance Enhancement have
shown strong results.
The assessment system and research grant seminars helped to improve the research output. This helps to promote the school and improve its image for marketing and branding purposes.
The improvement on the curriculum and diploma policy is also commendable, as reflected in the positive and encouraging feedback gathered from the students.


Branding/Marketing – This area has shown strong success, and commitment to using digital strategies for promotion is to be encouraged. This may provide options for supporting industry outreach in the current context (see below).

Faculty Development and Research Performance Enhancement – consistent planning and considerable effort to support faculty through new performance planning and evaluation processes (TESSA), as well as support strategies for increasing faculty engagement with grant application processes have resulted in measurable increases. Once again, in the context of the pandemic, when there is such stress and uncertainty, this is to be commended.

Investing in Equipment and Software for Online Communication – The MBA-IB program invested in purchasing equipment for online communication, in line with the current developments when teaching, learning and working need more flexibility. This investment helps the program reach the stakeholders, and became a strength point in student recruitment, teaching and learning, company visits, research and also daily operations.

3. Matters to be noted

Industry Outreach – the school noted that the current context of the pandemic had encouraged them to explore and enhance their competencies in digital strategy. Perhaps this could be extended into planning for an online approach to industry outreach. Given the extended nature of the pandemic, this could provide support for what was an already successful industry outreach program. The school can also enhance the use of online communication to ensure the participation of internal and external stakeholders in determining the vision and mission of the school.

Support – The school needs to support faculty, staff members and students who are using their personal hardware and other resources when working online.
The school also needs to add more administrative staff members to help ease the current workload of the support staff, and to have administrative staff members fluent in English.

The School’s Feedback:

Thank you for your assessment.
We should use the digital transformations brought about by COVID-19 to continuously engage our stakeholders online when unable to meet face-to-face. In addition, we will ensure that our administrative staff is fully supported.

PRT Responses:

The feedback is positive.