Photo/Illutration The impressive entrance to the Hongo campus of the University of Tokyo in Bunkyo Ward (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The University of Tokyo will offer a range of courses later this school year directed at a wide audience ranging from junior high school students to those already in the workplace to grasp the fundamentals of “metaverse” studies.

The new project will provide educational programs for which the imparting of information will take place in the metaverse, the online virtual-reality space that is becoming the key digital environment.

It will be set up by Todai’s Faculty of Engineering and engineering-related graduate schools, but will not be a regular faculty that offers degrees.

A primary aim of the project is to address the shortage of personnel skilled to handle digital transformation and keep pace with rapid changes in advanced technologies.

Educational programs directed at junior and senior high school students will introduce them to engineering and information science fields as well as provide information about possible career paths in such fields.

A concerted effort will be made to reach out to female students, given that they remain poorly represented in university engineering programs.

Students at other universities will be able to access the Todai metaverse to search for information about possible careers in engineering.

Online and face-to-face classes will be offered to junior and senior high school students and their guardians to give them an idea of what college engineering courses are like. Students will also be able to take part in practical learning through the cooperation of companies involved in such areas as product development.

Another aspect of the project will be to provide reskilling opportunities for university students or those already in the workplace. Online courses will be offered in such areas as artificial intelligence, entrepreneurial education and next-generation communication technology.

Certificates will be issued to those who complete the various courses.

University officials said using the metaverse would allow for creating an educational system in which anyone, regardless of age, gender, social standing and area of residence, can learn about engineering and information science.

Todai has already ventured into the metaverse, with Teruo Fujii, the university president, who has an engineering background, giving a lecture in January and an online orientation for incoming students held in spring.