A memorandum of understanding opening the door for an expanded partnership with Hiroshima College of Foreign Languages (HCFL) in Japan was recently signed by administrative and academic leaders at the University of Central Missouri and HCFL.

Updating a relationship UCM has had with the Hiroshima institution since 2005, the brief signing ceremony took place on Aug. 7 in the Elliott Student Union. The agreement creating a framework for institutional cooperation was signed by Roger Best, UCM president, and Phil Bridgmon, provost and vice president for academic affairs, with HCFL leaders, Jun Kumamoto, president, and Gakuji Tatsumi, dean of academic and student affairs.

Phil Hull, director of international student services at UCM, also attended the event. He noted for nearly two decades, HCFL students have been coming to UCM primarily as participants in the university’s English Language Institute (ELI). The ELI is housed in the Elliott Student Union, offering an Intensive English Program and professional language training and short-term cultural programming to help English language learners develop skills needed to succeed in higher education and in their careers.

The MOU enables partnering institutions to create opportunities that meet respective academic and educational needs through:
● Undergraduate and graduate degree-seeking programs
● Short- and long-term faculty and student exchanges
● Collaborative research and discovery, learning and teaching

● Programs offered or developed by UCM’s English Language Institute, and
● Other mutually agreed upon educational or research programs.

While many students from HCFL who enroll at UCM will continue to focus on opportunities to increase their fluency in the English language, the recent agreement with HCFL is a step toward making the transition to a four-year degree program much easier. Hull said the university plans to explore with HCFL leaders ways to ensure a smooth transfer of college credits between institutions.

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“Over the years, there have been conversations about doing a more robust articulation of courses because students at HCFL may take English classes but they also take courses that are primarily general education courses,” Hull said. “I am going to be working with Mr. Tatsumi on course articulation so that when students come to UCM, they can have courses that they have already taken at home count toward their bachelor’s degree."

Another benefit of this agreement is that UCM offers a renewable Global Partners Scholarship to HCFL students. A student who comes from the Japanese institution to UCM to pursue a degree or utilize opportunities available through the English Language Institute has the opportunity to do so at the in-state resident tuition rate.

This provides a significant savings on their college education. Several criteria must be met, however, before being eligible to receive this award. This includes requirements such as submitting timely documentation of UCM’s international student online application, demonstrated English proficiency, and other criteria.

Hull said the university also looks forward to future opportunities such as joint research projects between faculty members and students, and the development of future programs that are mutually beneficial.

This partnership with HCFL is one example of UCM’s ongoing efforts to connect the institution with other colleges, universities and students overseas who want to collaborate on educational opportunities in the United States and abroad. Hull said such initiatives re-awaken efforts that were stalled in recent years due to events such as COVID.

“One of the things I discovered in my travels this summer to places such as Malaysia and India, where I visited with partners, there’s an eagerness to get back to a certain degree of normalcy, and go forward with an even greater spirit of partnership,” Hull said.

In the photo:
From left, Phil Hull, director of international student services at the University of Central Missouri; Jun Kumamoto, president of Hiroshima College of Foreign Languages (HCFL); Roger Best, UCM president; Gakuji Tatsumi, HCFL dean of academic and student affairs; and Phil Bridgmon, UCM provost and vice president for academic affairs, participate in a memorandum of understanding signing event between UCM and HCFL.

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