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Message from the President

Towards a Relationship with a Feeling of Tension Between University Co-op and University

会長理事 古田元夫
Prof. Motoo Furuta
President
National Federation of University Co-operative Associations
(Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo)

The presence of a university co-op is essential to support the community at the university. The relationship is considered to have become a common sense not so long ago but in 1978 when Tadashi Fukutake, then the President of NFUCA, made remarks that a university co-op should exist not to create a combative relationship with the university, but instead should be cooperating with the university. The existence of a university co-op in university changed from an “annoying and troublesome” entity to a “dependable and reliable” entity. This change was a result of a systematic effort to build a constructive relationship between university co-ops and universities. The switch of university co-op’s stance occurred in the middle of the declining of student movement in Japan, which opened the doors for university co-ops to become a part of a university and grow.

The management efforts of university become important in the 21st century where national universities became national university corporations and declining birthrate continues. The contribution of university co-ops in the realization of principles and goals of the university becomes more important along with the reform of university, including the development of joint projects with universities. This contribution—along with securing university co-ops’ presence in university—has a very important significance, even with convenience stores entering universities.

However, in recent years, there is a movement in which a university could deny its own existence, such as the cutoff of humanities faculty. Under these circumstances, university co-ops need to clarify their stance as a co-op to the university. In the 58th Annual General Assembly (AGM) in 2014 one of the priority issues was “Efforts to contribute to the creating of attractive universities,” while in the 59th AGM in 2015 we established the following priority issue: “As a co-op that exists in the university, each university co-op shall think about how to respond to the change in the university co-op.” It implies that the judgement of university co-ops was more emphasized.

We do not need to go back to the past and become an “annoying and troublesome” entity again, but it seems that we have come to an era where “relationship with a feeling of tension” with the university is required.

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