AIU’s Response to Coronavirus

AIU’s Response to Coronavirus

Released: January 31st, 2020
Last Updated: August 6th, 2020

Table of Contents

Operation of the Fall 2020 Semester and Matriculation Ceremony

Dear Students,

Thanks to your positive attitudes our spring semester online courses were successfully completed. You have been patient and continued your studies in the face of this unprecedented, world-wide, emergency. I am proud of all of you.

Regarding the fall semester, we announced on July 3rd that our tentative plan was to accept our new students and some of our current students to live on campus. Further, we stated that we were hoping to offer our courses online, parallel, and also in-person. Since that time, and especially from mid-July, the number of new COVID-19 infections has sharply increased. Due to this circumstance, and in consultation with medical professionals, we have decided to continue to have a closed campus from September to December. Further, we will continue to offer our courses only online.

Under the current set of circumstances, even with less than half of our normal student population living on campus, it would be a hazardous situation. We would be accepting students from all over the country, and we would have student from areas, and traveling through areas, that have been impacted by this surge in infections. We do not want to put anyone at risk. Additionally, on August 3rd, the Governor of Akita Prefecture issued a travel advisory, cautioning anyone from traveling across prefectural borders, and especially from visiting, or traveling from, regions such as the Tokyo Metropolitan area, that are currently impacted by the spread of COVID-19 infections. Given all of these circumstances, we have made the difficult, but necessary, decision to continue to have a closed campus and only online classes.

For those of you who were looking forward to life on the AIU campus, especially our new students, we know that it is unfortunate that you won’t be able to meet in person with your friends and professors at AIU. It is especially painful to think of our seniors who will be graduating without being able to return to spend their last semester at their favorite campus. We hoped until the last moment that we could welcome some students back to campus. However, the surge in infections has forced us to change our plans.

In the week prior to our original July 3rd announcement, the national infection rate was 125 new infections per day. From July 27th to August 2nd, the infection rate jumped to 1227 new infections per day. With the infection rate increasing to ten times the earlier number, we had no choice but to act and change our original plan. Your health and safety and the health and safety of our faculty and staff must be our priorities. Additionally, we must understand that AIU is a public institution and we have a social responsibility to make sure that no infections spread from our campus to the Akita community.

Our top concerns remain to secure the safety of everyone and to continue to provide a stable and excellent educational program. In addition, we will continue to foster initiatives and regional exchanges in collaboration with our overseas partner universities. We will use the best of the online learning environment to help you continue to achieve your academic goals and fulfill your personal objectives.

Please be aware that our fall classes will start from Monday, September 7th, as scheduled. Additionally, our September 6th matriculation ceremony will be held online.

As we start on our summer vacation, it is my hope that you will take some time to relax and to refresh yourselves. Please enjoy the summer holiday as best you can, and within the bounds of social distancing. Be attentive to your health and safety. Though it may take a while for the pandemic to come to an end, I would like you to continue to move forward with your studies and your lives. I know that, working together, we will never let the challenges of the current situation defeat us.

Sincerely,

Norihiko Suzuki
President
Akita International University

Changes to the Operation of the Fall 2020 Matriculation Ceremony

  • Date and Time: Sunday, September 6, 2020, 11:00 am
  • Venue: Online via Zoom
  • Participants: Students who enrolled in April 2020 or September 2020, exchange students who are enrolled in the Fall 2020 Semester.
  • Program (Provisional): Matriculation of New Students, President’s Address, Speech by Representative of New Students, etc.

Notes

  • The fall semester is scheduled to start on Monday, September 7th.
  • Further details about the ceremony will be provided to participants separately.

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Message to Fall 2020 Inbound Exchange Students

Dear Fall 2020 Incoming and Continuing Exchange Students and Partner Institutions,

Greetings from Akita International University.

Cancellation of In-person Mobility for Fall 2020 Semester

I regret to inform you that Akita International University has made the difficult decision to cancel all of our inbound and outbound student mobility programs for the Fall 2020 Semester. While we will not be able to welcome you to Akita this fall, we have also decided to offer some of our courses online and make them available to you.

We are painfully aware that you were looking forward to your in-person exchange experience at Akita International University and the community and experiences here. We, too, wanted to take every opportunity to make this possible for you and for the past several weeks, we have been collecting and analyzing information from reliable sources to see if there was any possibility to welcome you to Akita. However, that information eventually led us to this challenging decision.

While we have seen that several countries have started developing and testing drugs to combat the virus, the process of testing, then creating production and distribution systems to ensure widespread availability is anticipated to take until the end of the year at earliest. Additionally, while research is proceeding on producing a vaccine, that process requires even more careful testing and development, so the earliest projections for general availability is next year. The WHO has also stated that the pandemic situation is expected to continue for some time, and has pointed out that some areas of the world are still at risk of a rapid growth in infections.

Some countries in Europe and North America, in particular, have begun implementing phased resumption of core economic activities, but it is not yet possible to predict their outcomes or make decisions based on them. Many experts are still predicting a second or third wave of infections and a long battle to come. In light of this situation, as of May 16, Japan will have immigration prohibitions in place against 100 countries and regions around the world, including nearly every country where we have partner universities. Under these circumstances, we cannot be sure when it will be become possible to welcome international students to Japan again.

Based on this uncertain situation, we have determined that we unfortunately cannot guarantee a safe and fulfilling study abroad experience for students in the Fall 2020 Semester.

Fall 2020 Virtual Study Abroad: Online Courses for Exchange Students

AIU has decided to offer a select group of courses online during the Fall 2020 Semester and to make them available to students from our partner universities who had applied for the fall semester. Japanese language courses as well as some content courses will be available.

Students participating in our fall 2020 virtual exchange will also be able to participate in virtual student life activities, which have already started in the spring semester.

The Center for International Affairs will be continuing with the screening of mobility applications for the Fall 2020 Semester. Students who are interested in enrolling in our Fall 2020 Semester courses as exchange students should continue with their application procedures. Your exchange coordinators will be in touch with you after this message with further details about your options and the specific procedures based on your enrollment and application status.

Right now, the world is facing an unprecedented danger. I hope you all join with me in believing that we will be able to overcome this challenge. We must all consider the post-COVID-19 world, what it will be like, what actions and behaviors we must take to adapt, and how we can prepare. This is also a period of unprecedented potential for growth. To that end, I hope that you all continue your studies and prepare to make a strong, positive impact on our world.

Best Regards,
Yoshitaka Kumagai
Vice President
Akita International University

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Message to Fall 2020 Outbound Exchange Students

Dear Students who Were Planning to Study Abroad in Fall 2020,

I am reaching out to you today with an important announcement about fall 2020 study abroad.

I regret to inform you that AIU has decided to cancel all Fall 2020 Semester outbound and inbound study abroad. We are painfully aware of how important the one-year study abroad experience is to all of you and how much you were looking forward to it. For this reason, we have spent the last several weeks collecting and analyzing information from reliable sources to see if there was any possibility to operate or study abroad program until the last possible moment. However, that information led us to this challenging decision.

While we have seen that several countries have started developing and testing drugs to combat the virus, the process of testing, then creating production and distribution systems to ensure widespread availability is anticipated to take until the end of the year at earliest. Additionally, while research is proceeding on producing a vaccine, that process requires even more careful testing and development, so the earliest projections for general availability is next year.

We have also seen that some countries have begun implementing phased resumption of core economic activities, but recently in the cases of Germany and South Korea, that has already led to an increase in infections, so we cannot predict the final impact of these measures. In fact, many experts are still predicting a second or third wave of infections and a long battle to come.

Countries around the world are still implementing strict measures on movement and, as of May 14, 184 countries and regions currently still have immigration restrictions in place against Japanese citizens and persons traveling from Japan. Some countries are not processing visa applications for Japanese citizens and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not lowered its Infectious Disease Risk Level 3 (Do not travel) warning in place for countries where AIU’s partner universities are located. We are also aware that many of our partner universities have already announced that they will not accept exchange students for the Fall 2020 Semester.

It is possible that over the coming summer, some countries will get the domestic COVID-19 situation under control and return to a relatively normal way of life. There may be some people who think that it would be safe to continue student exchange to those countries. However, if the predicted second or third wave of infections strikes those countries, we could once again find ourselves in a situation like February and March of this year, when all of our students had to return suddenly to Japan in a very difficult situation. Additionally, we have seen in other countries that the mortality rate from COVID-19 is particularly high, and that medical institutions have been overwhelmed. Please understand that your health and safety are most important to us, so we are not able to send you abroad into such a high-risk situation.

Experts around the world have stated that we are facing an unprecedented danger. While you unfortunately will not be able to participate in study abroad this coming semester, we are certain that you will also have the opportunity for personal, global experience abroad in the future. For now, though, the most important thing is to protect your lives and safety, focus on what is possible in the current situation, and use this time to establish the skills and ability to face the challenges of the future. 

Best Regards,
Yoshitaka Kumagai
Vice President
Akita International University

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Changes to Akita International University Spring 2020 Semester Format

Up to this point, Akita International University had planned to welcome new students to campus on April 1 and start classes on April 9. However, due to the significant changes throughout the world due to the WHO-declared COVID-19 pandemic, AIU will start the Spring 2020 Semester on Monday, April 20, and will conduct the entire semester online via distance education.

Because of this change, all students, including new students and international students, are expected to enroll in courses from their homes, in principle.

AIU had made every possible effort to be able to receive you on campus and provide a safe and secure environment here for your studies. However, since AIU’s student body comes from around the country and the world, and all students live together in shared housing, participate in small, interactive classes, extensive group work, and a variety of activities both on and off campus, the risk of COVID-19 spreading rapidly on campus would be particularly high. Additionally, we have already seen many of our partner universities across Asia, Europe, and North America move their coursework to online, distance education to enable students to continue their studies in a safe environment. In order to maintain our student exchange relationships, AIU has determined to offer the same service so that students enrolling here can take courses in a safe environment.

Once the ongoing situation has settled we look forward to welcoming students to campus once again, and providing the same experience of shared living and studying, as well as our usual lesson format. However, since students’ health must be our top priority, we have had to reach this very difficult decision for the Spring 2020 Semester. We ask your kind understanding.

More information about course registration and enrolling in online distance learning courses will be provided separately, as soon as possible.

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Information for Students, Faculty, Staff, and International Partners

Regarding Travel

AIU has directed all faculty and staff to refrain from traveling outside of Akita prefecture, whether within Japan or internationally, except in urgent or emergency situations. Further immigration restrictions and quarantine procedures may be implemented at any time.

Health Maintenance

At this point, the best health precautions against COVID-19 are the same as for seasonal colds or influenza: Wash hands regularly with soap and hot water, use alcohol to sanitize your hands, wear a mask, and practice proper etiquette with coughing or sneezing.

New students, as well as current students, faculty, and staff members who are currently abroad should practice increased precautions, particularly in the period prior to and during their travel. Airports are implementing stricter health examinations and anyone exhibiting, or who has recently exhibited, symptoms similar to those associated with COVID-19 may be refused entry to Japan or subject to additional examination and quarantine.

What to Do If You Experience Symptoms

If you are suffering from cold symptoms or a fever of 37.5 C (99.5 F) for four days in a row, a strong sense of lethargy, or difficulty breathing, please wear a mask and immediately report your situation by phone to the Akita Health Center’s consultation office (018-866-7050) [24-hour operation, including weekends and holidays] and to the AIU Administrative Office (018-886-5900), including your recent travel history, then get screened as soon as possible at a medical facility. Please note that the Akita City Health Center operates in Japanese, only, in general, so please ask a Japanese speaker to assist you in contacting them, or contact the AIU Administrative Office for assistance.

Reporting Obligations

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19, you must report that diagnosis by phone to the AIU Administrative Office (018-886-5900).

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Q&A for Exchange and Study Abroad Students about Spring 2020

Orientation
Question: Will there be an orientation for new students?

Answer:AIU is not going to have a regular orientation where all the new students gather together. Instead new exchange/study abroad students will receive the orientation materials digitally that will help them prepare to start their studies at AIU.

New students will be given a student identification number and a university email address. Students will be receiving their student identification numbers and email addresses by email to the personal email address they submitted in the online applications. All further communications from AIU will go to their AIU email addresses. The email will be sent on April 1st. Using the student ID number and email address, students will be able to access the AIU web system (ATOMS), the class registration system, and the university online learning system known as AIMS. The mailing will give students exact steps to take to log into the systems. So, students should pay attention to their emails and make sure that they carefully read all messages from AIU as soon as they receive them early in April.

Enrolling in Online Courses
Question: How will the online courses be conducted?

Answer: There will be a hybrid system of course delivery. In some cases students will be interacting with their instructors and fellow students simultaneously. In other cases there will be what we call an asynchronous course delivery where students will, for example, watch a prerecorded lecture and respond to questions about the lecture before a set deadline.

Question: If I don’t have a computer, do I need to purchase one?

Answer: A computer is essential for enrolling in online courses, writing essays, creating presentations, and other academic tasks. Therefore, AIU asks all students to purchase or secure a computer for their use both for their immediate studies and for their future study abroad programs. The computer model must be equipped with a web camera and a microphone, so if your computer does not already have these devices included, please purchase them separately. Please see below for the recommended specifications for purchasing a new computer. However, if you already own a computer, it is not necessary to purchase a new one:

Minimum Required Specifications
  • CPU: Intel Core i3 or above, AMD Ryzen 3 and above
  • Memory: 8GB or above
  • Internal Memory SSD 250GB and above (no HDD)
  • Internal Web Camera and Microphone are recommended or external ones connected via a USB connection
Recommended Specifications
  • Able to output visuals by HDMI or via an adapter
  • Minimum 3 year warranty
Question: Do I need access to the Internet for my courses?

Answer: All students will need to have access to a stable, high speed, Internet connection to view lecture videos and take part in video-based online meetings by the time classes begin. Students using mobile data connections should be sure to have unlimited data access.

Question: How will the academic calendar be impacted?

Answer: An updated academic calendar was posted on the AIU website on March 26. Please refer to that calendar for more information.

Question: What happens to the class schedule?

Answer: The class schedule is based on Japanese Time (GMT+9, no daylight savings) and classes will be held according to the Japanese time zone. Some courses or lessons may be provided via pre-recorded materials, etc., that you can view at a time of your choosing, but please assume that most classes will be broadcast live and that attendance will be required. Students enrolling in courses from other time zones should be sure to consider the time difference when selecting their courses and scheduling their days.

The specific delivery method (live, pre-recorded, etc.) for each class can be found on the course' online syllabus or in the AIMS page for that course. Please be sure to check both. Japanese language courses for international students are intended for students outside of Japan, so the actual class time will be decided for each course with attention to the time zones of the registered students. Please note that for Japanese language courses, the time in the class schedule is not final.

Question: How should I purchase textbooks for my classes?

Answer: Please purchase your textbooks through an online, local, or home university bookstore. Further information about textbook sales will be provided via ATOMS and email to students’ AIU email accounts.

AIU Support and Facilities
Question: Will exchange/study abroad students have access to an academic advisor at AIU?

Answer: Yes. All new and continuing students will be assigned an academic advisor. More information about your academic advisor will be provided prior to the start of classes.

Question: Must I leave and stay away from the AIU campus?

Answer: Yes. Students should depart and not return to the AIU campus. All students have already received instructions about departing campus from the Office of Student Affairs or the Center for International Affairs.

Question: What happens to the rent when you move away from campus?

Answer: The Center for International Affairs has already contacted all exchange and study abroad students about their enrollment for the spring semester and refund eligibility. Students should be sure to follow up according to the instructions in that message.

Question: I would like to come back to the AIU to retrieve my personal items from my dorm room, may I do so?

Answer: As visiting the AIU campus and campus facilities is prohibited for the time being, you are not allowed to come to campus for any reason, even for retrieving your belongings left in your room.

In case you left any items in your room that are necessary for the start of the class, the university will send them to you. Please contact the Housing and Student Facilities Team of the Division of Student Affairs by email.

Question: Are the library and LDIC available for student use during the spring semester?

Answer: Campus facilities cannot be used during the Spring 2020 Semester. However, e-resources such as e-books and online journals that can be accessed online from your home, as well as online services like Rosetta Stone and Grammarly, will still be available.

Student Life Activities
Question: Can students still participate in club activities?

Answer: Those club activities that may be conducted online are encouraged, but any club activities where students physically gather together are not permitted.

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Q&A for New Degree-Seeking Students about Spring 2020

To new students and to their parents:

To our new students we offer congratulations on passing the AIU entrance examination. Before entering our university we know that our new students are probably spending their days with a mixture of expectation and nervousness.

On March 19th a decision was made by the AIU president that our 2020 spring semester courses would be delivered online using distance education teaching methods. Further, it was decided that our courses would commence on April 20th. Lastly, it was decided that our dormitories will remain closed during the entire 2020 spring term. These decisions might surprise our students as they were expecting to join us in Akita, at AIU, at our beautiful, forested campus. At the same time, students might feel anxious about these decisions.

As President Suzuki stated in his announcement of these decisions, AIU was planning to receive about 130 international students from our affiliated schools around the world, as well as about 200 freshmen from all over Japan. We had intended to start their international liberal arts educations on campus. It is an educational curriculum that encourages the growth of individuals through both academics and extracurricular activities.

However, and unfortunately, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has been spreading rapidly since the beginning of the year. Of particular concern are “cluster infections.” Cluster infections occur in environments where the virus spreads quickly through a segment of the population or an isolated group. As AIU is a residential university where students from around the world gather to study and live together, the risk of a cluster infection is much higher for the AIU community in comparison to a typical Japanese university. If one student is infected, the infection could easily spread throughout the university community. Additionally, in the case of even one infection, AIU would have to isolate all the students, faculty, and staff and disinfect all the classrooms, dormitory rooms and common areas, and the cafeteria. To accomplish this, the university would have to close. The impact on our students, faculty, and staff would be enormous. The decisions of President Suzuki were based on an understanding of these circumstances and were made for the sake of the university’s mission to provide a safe and enriching study environment. We ask for your understanding.

We know that some students might be worried that this switch to online courses in the 2020 spring semester might not allow them to accumulate enough credit hours to maintain their timelines for study abroad or graduation. We can assure them that they will receive enough credits in the spring term to maintain their schedules for study abroad and graduation. Additionally, they might wonder about their ability to learn the content and improve their academic skills through online courses. Everyone should rest assured that AIU is preparing diligently to deliver the best quality of education through online formats.

The spread of the coronavirus is filling the world with anxiety and confusion. But having the wherewithal to overcoming this type of hardship is a quality that we want our AIU students to develop. We want our students to be steadfast and ambitious in pursuit of their educations.

We know that you have questions regarding the courses and classes. Below, we have listed some of them along with our answers. As we receive more questions, we will provide more answers. We want you to have all the answers and information that you need in order to be secure in your understanding of the path AIU is taking and how instruction will take place during the spring semester.

Sincerely,
Prof. Yoshitaka Kumagai
Vice President
Akita International University

Questions and Answers:

Question: How will the online courses be conducted?
Answer: There will be a hybrid system of course delivery. In some cases, students will be interacting with their instructors and fellow students simultaneously. In other cases, there will be what we call an asynchronous course delivery where students will, for example, watch a prerecorded lecture and respond to questions about the lecture before a set deadline. Regardless of the format, students will be given a student number and a university email address via regular mail. The mailing will be sent out on April 1st. Using the student number and email address, a student will be able to access the AIU ATOMS web system, the class registration system, and the university online learning system known as AIMS. The mailing will give students exact steps to take to log into the systems. So, students should pay attention to the mail and make sure that they open the mailing from AIU as soon as they receive it early in April.
Question: If I don’t have a computer, do I need to purchase one?

Answer: A computer is essential for enrolling in online courses, writing essays, creating presentations, and other academic tasks. Therefore, AIU asks all students to purchase or secure a computer for their use both for their immediate studies and for their future study abroad programs. The computer model must be equipped with a web camera and a microphone, so if your computer does not already have these devices included, please purchase them separately. Please see below for the recommended specifications for purchasing a new computer. However, if you already own a computer, it is not necessary to purchase a new one:

Minimum Required Specifications
  • CPU: Intel Core i3 or above, AMD Ryzen 3 and above
  • Memory: 8GB or above
  • Internal Memory SSD 250GB and above (no HDD)
  • Internal Web Camera and Microphone are recommended or external ones connected via a USB connection
Recommended Specifications
  • Able to output visuals by HDMI or via an adapter
  • Minimum 3 year warranty
Question: I do not have Wi-Fi or access to the Internet, what should I do?
Answer: All students will need to have access to a stable, high speed, Internet connection to view lecture videos and take part in video-based online meetings by the time classes begin. Students using mobile data connections should be sure to have unlimited data access.
Question: Is there any economic support from AIU in order to help me with getting a computer or an internet connection?
Answer: For those students who qualify for tuition reduction, as defined by Japanese law, AIU is currently exploring offering a non-interest university loan. Students will pay the loan back in the future but with no accrual of interest on the loan.
Question: How should I purchase textbooks?
Answer: For textbooks that were planned to be sold at the university, AIU is working with the textbook sales contractor so that students will be able to purchase textbooks online and have them delivered to their homes. Additionally, some courses have additional textbooks that must be purchased according to the directions of the course instructor. Please follow your instructor's guidance for purchase in those cases.
Question: The English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program has several levels. How will I be placed in my level?
Answer: Students will be divided into their ability levels in the EAP based on their submitted language assessment scores from a recent language assessment (TOEFL ITP® and others) of no more than 12 months old, an essay that they will complete in early April, and for a few students, a possible online interview.
Question: Are we able to do some class discussions with our classmates?
Answer: Yes, at some points in the EAP courses, students will be encouraged, and able to, have discussions with their classmates and interact with their teachers. Before classes begin, we will be sending a list of specifications to allow students to interact with one another and their teachers via online formats.
Question: Will students be able to stay in the AIU dormitories after the spring semester?
Answer: If the situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) allows, AIU would like to open the dormitories and go back to normal, face-to-face classes at the beginning of the fall semester. We want students to be able to enjoy a normal campus life as soon as considerations of safety make it possible.
Question: Will online classes help me to improve my English skills enough to continue on with my academic studies?
Answer: Yes, students can improve their English skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening through online classes. If they feel they need extra skill development, in the fall semester, the EAP will offer optional workshops to help them improve their skills. In addition, AIU has many facilities and resources to help them improve their English. We have the Language Development and Intercultural Studies Center (LDIC), the Academic Achievement Center (AAC), among other programs to help our students improve their language and academic abilities.

Additionally, students and parents should understand that the process of improvement in English and academic skills is something that takes place over the course of a student’s academic career at AIU and not only in the foundational courses of the English for Academic Purposes program.

Question: How will the academic calendar be impacted?
Answer: An updated academic calendar with the new course registration period and other information will be posted on the university website soon. Students will be informed by email when it is ready.
Question: Will there be an orientation for new students?
Answer: AIU is not going to have a regular orientation where all the new students gather together. Instead, new students will be sent the necessary informational materials that will help them prepare to start their studies at AIU. Orientation sessions regarding their campus life will be provided after arrival on campus.
Question: Will there be a matriculation ceremony for students starting in spring semester?
Answer: Provided that the COVID-19 situation has stabilized and it is safe to do so, AIU will hold the spring matriculation ceremony at the start of the fall semester.
Question: What happens to my dormitory and meal plan fees if I have already made my payments?
Answer: If students have already paid their dormitory and meal plan fees, they should not worry. AIU will apply these payments to the fall semester or later. Those students who have not yet paid their dormitory and meal plan fees for the spring semester should still pay by the deadline.
Question: How will the university provide scholarship information to each student?
Answer: The scholarship information will be provided in the document enclosed in the material package, which will be sent on April 1. We are also planning to have an online session later. Its schedule and details will be informed by email and ATOMS after April 1. Please keep yourself updated by checking your e-mail account and ATOMS after you become able to access your university email account and ATOMS.
Question: As for the Loan/Scholarship application for Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), how should l submit the "Notice of Reserved Recipient for JASSO Loan (「採用候補者決定通知(進学先提出用)」) " to the university?

Answer: Please submit it by post. When you fill out the back side of "Notice of Reserved Recipient for JASSO Loan/Scholarship「採用候補者決定通知(進学先提出用)」) ", please send it by post to the address below by no later than April 8. To avoid any delivery errors or loss, please send it by registered mail or equivalent service with a tracking number.

Mailing address:
Financial Aid
Division of Student Services, Office of Student Affairs
Akita International University
Okutsubakidai, Yuwa Tsubakigawa, Akita City
Akita 010-1292, Japan

Question: As for the Loan/Scholarship of Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), there are two categories depending on commuting styles. One is "commuting from home" and the other is "commuting other than (away from) home". Which category should I choose if courses are offered online? Should I choose “commuting from home” in this case? If so, is it possible for me to change it to "commuting form other than home" later when everything is back to normal in Fall semester?
Answer: For now, please choose "commuting from home". You can change the category to "commuting other than (away from) home" later, when you arrive on campus in Fall semester.
Question: I want to know how to apply for tuition reduction or exemption system by the Japanese government.
Answer: The information on reduction or exemption of tuition payment will be provided in the document enclosed in the material package, which will be sent on April 1. We are also planning to have an online session later. Its schedule and details will be informed by email and ATOMS after April 1. Please keep yourself updated by checking your e-mail account and ATOMS after you become able to access your university email account and ATOMS.
Question: Is there any change in tuition payment?
Answer: There is no change. The "Tuition Transfer Request Form" will be enclosed in the material package, which will be sent on April 1. Please pay it by the deadline. However, tuition payment will be deferred for those who will apply for reduction or exemption system. For the details of the application, please check your e-mail account and ATOMS provided above.

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Q&A for Continuing Degree-Seeking Students about Spring 2020

To AIU students and to their parents:

On March 19th President Suzuki announced the closing of all AIU dormitories for the 2020 spring term along with the postponement of the start of AIU classes to April 20th. Additionally, he explained that all AIU courses will be conducted online during the 2020 spring term.

As President Suzuki stated in his announcement of these decisions, AIU was planning to receive about 130 international students from our affiliated schools around the world, as well as about 200 freshman from all over Japan. We had intended to start their international liberal arts educations on campus.

However, and unfortunately, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has been spreading rapidly since the beginning of the year. Of particular concern are “cluster infections.” Cluster infections occur in environments where the virus spreads quickly through a segment of the population or an isolated group. As AIU is a residential university where students from around the world gather to study and live together, the risk of a cluster infection is much higher for the AIU community in comparison to a typical Japanese university. If one student is infected the infection could easily spread throughout the university community. Additionally, in the case of even one infection, AIU would have to isolate all the students, faculty, and staff and disinfect all the classrooms, dormitory rooms and common areas, and the cafeteria. To accomplish this, the university would have to close. The impact on our students, faculty, and staff would be enormous. The decisions of President Suzuki were based on an understanding of these circumstances and were made for the sake of the university’s mission to provide a safe and enriching study environment. We ask for your understanding.

Implementing online courses for the 2020 spring semester will allow AIU to support its students to stay on course for their graduations and employment without any disruptions. Also, we recognize that some students might be worried about the quality of their learning when it is done in an online format. Everyone should rest assured that AIU is preparing diligently to deliver the best quality of education through online formats.

The spread of the coronavirus is filling the world with anxiety and confusion. But having the wherewithal to overcoming this type of hardship is a quality that we want our AIU students to develop. We want our students to be steadfast and ambitious in pursuit of their educations.

We know that you have questions regarding the courses and classes. Below, we have listed some of them along with our answers. As we receive more questions, we will provide more answers. We want you to have all the answers and information that you need in order to be secure in your understanding of the path AIU is taking and how instruction will take place during the spring semester.

We have also provided additional, separate guidance directly to AIU students who are currently abroad.

Sincerely,
Prof. Yoshitaka Kumagai
Vice President
Akita International University

Questions and Answers:

Question: How will the online courses be conducted?
Answer: There will be a hybrid system of course delivery. In some cases students will be interacting with their instructors and fellow students simultaneously. In other cases there will be what we call asynchronous course delivery where students will, for example, watch a prerecorded lecture and respond to questions about the lecture before a set deadline. Regardless of the format, students will need to access the AIU ATOMS and AIMS. Please pay attention to the upcoming information regarding the details on the procedure.
Question: I don’t have a computer, do I need to purchase one?

Answer: A computer is essential for enrolling in online courses, writing essays, creating presentations, and other academic tasks. Therefore, AIU asks all students to purchase or secure a computer for their use both for their immediate studies and for their future study abroad programs. The computer model must be equipped with a web camera and a microphone, so if your computer does not already have these devices included, please purchase them separately. Please see below for the recommended specifications for purchasing a new computer. However, if you already own a computer, it is not necessary to purchase a new one:

Minimum Required Specifications
  • CPU: Intel Core i3 or above, AMD Ryzen 3 and above
  • Memory: 8GB or above
  • Internal Memory SSD 250GB and above (no HDD)
  • Internal Web Camera and Microphone are recommended or external ones connected via a USB connection
Recommended Specifications
  • Able to output visuals by HDMI or via an adapter
  • Minimum 3 year warranty
Question: Do I need access to the Internet for my courses?
Answer: All students will need to have access to a stable, high speed, Internet connection to view lecture videos and take part in video-based online meetings by the time classes begin. Students using mobile data connections should be sure to have unlimited data access.
Question: Is there any economic support from AIU in order to help me with getting a computer or an internet connection?
Answer: For those students who qualify for tuition reduction, as defined by Japanese law, AIU is currently exploring offering a non-interest university loan. Students will pay the loan back in the future but with no accrual of interest on the loan.
Question: How should I purchase textbooks for my classes?
Answer: For textbooks that were planned to be sold at the university, AIU is working with the textbook sales contractor so that students will be able to purchase textbooks online and have them delivered to their homes. Additionally, some courses have additional textbooks that must be purchased according to the directions of the course instructor. Please follow your instructor's guidance for purchase in those cases.
Question: Must I leave and stay away from the AIU campus?
Answer: Yes. Students should depart and not return to the AIU campus. the cases with students who do not have their residence in Japan (including all exchange/study abroad students), students whose residence is in an area where there is an ongoing spread of COVID-19, or other students who have other special circumstances will be discussed and dealt with individually. Please wait for a follow-up email to be sent from the AIU Office of Student Affairs (Degree-Seeking Students) or the AIU Center for International Affairs (Exchange/Study Abroad Students).
Question: What happens to the rent when you move away from campus?
Answer: We did not collect the rent for March and April even if students left their personal items in their rooms. If students have already paid for March or later months their rent payments will be applied to the fall semester or later semesters. If students do not return to live in the dormitory in the fall semester, AIU will refund these dormitory fees.
Question: I would like to come back to the AIU to retrieve my personal items from my dorm room, may I do so?

Answer: As visiting the AIU campus and campus facilities is prohibited for the time being, you are not allowed to come to campus for any reason, even for retrieving your belongings left in your room.

In case you left any items in your room that are necessary for the start of the class, the university will send them to you. Please contact the Housing and Student Facilities Team of the Division of Student Affairs by email.

Question: How will the academic calendar be impacted?
Answer: An updated academic calendar with the new course registration period and other information will be posted on the university website soon. Students will be informed by email when it is ready
Question: Must students who live off campus return to their hometowns?
Answer: No, they do not need to do so. All students may access the online courses from their current lodgings off campus.
Question: Are the library, classrooms, or graduate students' rooms available for student use during the spring term?
Answer: In general, no, these facilities cannot be used. However, e-resources such as e-books and online journals that can be accessed online from your home will still be available.
Question: What happens to the class schedule?
Answer: In general. the original schedule will be followed; however, there might be adjustments in the case of individual courses and classes depending on the delivery format and according to the syllabus.
Question: Can students still participate in club activities?
Answer: Those club activities that may be conducted online are encouraged, but any club activities where students physically gather together are not permitted.
Question: What will happen to TOEFL®-ITP and other English language examinations?
Answer: We are not able to conduct language proficiency tests during the spring term. We will consider scheduling tests if the situation with COVID-19 allows.

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Information for Visitors

Campus and Facilities Closed to Public

In light of the rapid spread of COVID-19 both within Japan and internationally, AIU has reinforced the importance of daily health maintenance and disease prevention to students, faculty, and staff members, suspended all large meetings and gatherings, and asked all university members to suspend non-emergency travel outside of the prefecture or overseas.

In general, the AIU campus, including our library and cafeteria, are open to members of the public. However, in order to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19, AIU has determined to prohibit the use of campus facilities, including the library, cafeteria, and College Café to anyone not affiliated with the university and is not able to accepts any requests to visit or tour campus or requests for exchange/community interaction events effective February 28, 2020.

We ask for your kind understanding at this difficult time.

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Information for AIU Graduates

Postponement of Spring Graduation and Matriculation Ceremonies

In light of the current spread of COVID-19, the March 2020 Graduation and Completion Ceremony as well as the April 2020 Matriculation Ceremony will be postponed until a later date. The university is currently considering another schedule for the postponed ceremonies, which will be announced as soon as it is decided. For more information, please see President Suzuki's announcement here.

Delivery of diplomas and Certificate of Graduation/Completion

Diplomas

Diplomas will be given to students at the postponed Graduation/Completion ceremony, whose schedule will be decided later. However, if you need them earlier, please apply for it using this form by 5:00 P.M. on Friday, March 6.

If you do not need Diploma earlier and are willing to attend the postponed ceremonies (including undecided to attend the ceremonies),

  • Your diploma will be kept at the university and given at the ceremonies.
  • In the case you become unable to attend the ceremonies, your diploma will be sent to the address you have provided.

Certificate for Graduation/Completion

Certificate for Graduation/Completion (2 copies in Japanese) will be sent to all students who graduate or complete in March 2020. In case you applied for extra copies of certificate(s), documents will be sent along with the 2 copies of certificates in Japanese.

Please apply for extra copies of your certificates using this form.
*If you have already applied for it, you do not have to apply for it again.

Teaching Certificate

The university will send Teaching Certificate to all Students (including students who graduated in August) who applied for the certificate.

Official Transcript

If you wish to receive transcripts, please apply using this form by 5:00 P.M. on Friday, March 6.

All documents will be sent to the address you specify in the forms on Monday, March 23. The university will bear the cost of postage.

If you have any questions about receiving diploma and certificates, please contact the Division of Student Records at studentrecords@aiu.ac.jp

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Updates and Further Information

As any new information becomes available, AIU will update this page.

Information for current students (including international students), faculty, and staff members will be posted on AIU TOtal Management System (ATOMS). Additionally, the Center for International Affairs will share the same information with our incoming international students and international partners by email, as necessary.

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COVID-19 Infection Risk Business Continuity Plan (BCP)

Based on the ongoing spread of the COVID-19 infection throughout all of Japan, that State of Emergency declaration was expanded to the entire country on April 16.

While Akita prefecture has not seen that trend of rapid increase in infections, which has been visible in large urban areas, and no infections have been confirmed at our university, the further spread of the infection within Akita prefecture remains a possibility. Therefore the Emergency Response Headquarters decided to create AIU’s COVID-19 Infection Risk Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in order to strictly limit activities on campus in response to this situation.

As of the time of adoption, April 22, the university is at Level 2 (Restricted Operations (Low)). In accordance with Level 2, we would like to ask everyone’s cooperation with the following measures:

  1. Classes: To be held online, only.
  2. On-Campus Meetings: Conduct online meetings to the maximum degree possible and limit in-person meetings to the minimum number necessary.
  3. Housing Facilities (Dormitory and Apartments): In principle, residence is not permitted.
  4. All other campus facilities (Nakajima Library building, lecture buildings, Student Hall, etc.): Use is partially limited.
  5. Student Extracurricular Activities: Online activities are permitted, but in-person activities are prohibited.
  6. Administrative Office: Promote working from alternate locations on campus and teleworking, with a target goal of 1/3 of staff each in alternate locations and teleworking.

Akita International University's Business Continuity Plan can be viewed here.

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Updates and Further Information

As any new information becomes available, AIU will update this page.

Information for current students (including international students), faculty, and staff members will be posted on AIU TOtal Management System (ATOMS). Additionally, the Center for International Affairs will share the same information with our incoming international students and international partners by email, as necessary.

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Related information

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Change History:

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