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Selection of centres

Screening for grants is carried out by the GCOE Programme Committee, which was established by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), an independent administrative institution under MEXT. The committee sets up a working group to discuss screening policy, and screening/evaluation subcommittees in each field then review the documents submitted and select eligible centres. Candidate centres are then chosen during the subcommittee’s hearings. When necessary, the chairs of each subcommittee convene a general meeting to discuss results before reporting to the GCOE Programme Committee. Finally, the centres are selected.

The criteria used to screen the centres include:5

• The proposal should embody a concept for developing the university that reflects its specific institutional character and should include means of creating a high- level education and research centre to be managed by the university president.

  • • After the five years of funding ends, the university's COE should be able to continue operating as an internationally excellent education and research centre.
  • • The programme aims to build an education and research centre that fosters highly creative young researchers. To this end, the centre must conduct creative, leading- edge research at the highest world level. It should have the potential for future expansion.
  • • Proposals, particularly in "interdisciplinary, combined fields, new disciplines", should incorporate strategies to make existing research groups or departments innovative, e.g. through organisational and/or curriculum reform.
  • • COEs established under the 21st Century COE Programme should have achieved the expected results under that programme.
  • • If a university wishes to implement its COE programme in co-operation with other institutes (domestic or foreign), it must formulate a clear concept of its own future development and of the proposed centre and show why co-operation with other institutes is necessary to realise its goal.

There are two overall points of concern:

  • • In screening, attention should focus on the potential for human resource development, the potential of the centre itself and international considerations, while also emphasising the centre’s future developmental potential, regardless of its size or scale, and the operability of the proposed education and research activities.
  • • Care should be taken to ensure a wide range of fields and to avoid a bias towards particular academic disciplines or areas of research.


An interim evaluation of selected programmes is conducted after two years and a final evaluation is conducted after the programme is completed. Follow-up hearings and site investigations may also be conducted if deemed appropriate. Evaluations involve document and panel reviews by the subcommittee of each field.

The interim evaluation is conducted by researchers with expertise and experience in the relevant field(s). It ascertains the progress made in the project and advises on how to improve operational effectiveness and achieve the objective of establishing a centre of excellence. It also assesses the project’s potential to become an internationally excellent education and research centre. The results of the evaluation are used to determine the allocation of subsequent funding.

The ex-post evaluation considers the degree to which the objectives of the institution’s implementation plan have been achieved. It also considers the appropriateness of the measures taken in response to the results of the interim evaluation. It serves as an opportunity to offer advice to the institution on the sustainable advancement of their education and research programmes after GCOE funding ends and on ways to improve the programme’s quality further. Furthermore, by defining the achievements of each core institution and disseminating this information to society, the evaluation serves to increase public understanding of the institution’s education and research activities and therefore to gain greater public support for them.


Both interim and ex post evaluations address: i) project implementation (vision for university’s future, organisational support, overall development in terms of human resources and research activities, and appropriate and effective use of grant); ii) measures to deal with points of concern; iii) future prospects; and iv) other: what impact will creation of an internationally top-level education and research centre have on the university both internally and externally?

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