Predicting the necessary skills and competencies required by the students of today, for them to be ready for the future, has always been high on the priority list for students, educators, policy makers and business leaders. We know that change is the only constant, and in order for graduates to be ready for this uncertainty, it is essential for educational institutions to develop students who are adaptable, resilient, and self-driven. This study investigates the impact of discovering ikigai, which is a key component of a comprehensive year-1 undergraduate students’ development programme on self-leadership. To evaluate this impact, the study adopted a mixed-methods approach and featured 510 students and 37 coaches. The results demonstrated benefit in defining ikigai since students reported they had learned key skills in self-leadership, even when delivered as emergency remote learning. This favourable outcome was accompanied by a very high satisfaction rate measure by Net Promoter Score of 73.9%. More longitudinal work will need to be carried out to investigate whether feeling prepared for what is yet to come actually predicts how well young people make the most of their university experience to hone their 21st century skills and achieve their goals in the future.


This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.

Cite as

Hall, D., Rangunathan, T., Tan, Y., Wong, L., Dass, S., Low, J., Lee, C., Namasivayam, S., Choong, S. & Al-Atabi, M. 2023, 'Impact of defining ikigai in developing future-ready university graduates with self-leadership skills: A whole university mixed-methods study during Covid-19', Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 43(3), pp. 660-691. https://doi.org/10.1080/02188791.2023.2231645

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Last updated: 21 September 2023
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