This is a broad term that usually refers to fewer government regulations and restrictions, mainly on economic matters, but I think it can equally be applied to academic matters, too. I have always felt that in Japan the Ministry of Education has been too restrictive and controlling when it comes to educational freedom. There are too many rules and regulations which seem archaic and which stifle innovative efforts to both advance learning and open it to a broader spectrum of people.
First of all, I think universities should change the current payment method. Instead of charging students an annual fee, cost should be determined by the number of credits a student takes. This is how it is done in the United States. The university determines the cost of a credit and then tuition is based on the total cost of the number of credits a student takes place set fees for the use of campus facilities. A student is thus able to take as many or as few courses, and credits, as he or she likes. Likewise, there should not be a limit on the number of credits that a student wishes to take. In Japan, there are usually upper limits on the number of credits a student is allowed to take in a year.
Entrance to university should not be only based on an entrance exam. Universities do have other types of entrance exams, such as referrals by specific high schools, interviews for foreign students or students who have lived abroad. In other words, providing more options for applying to a university should be expanded. Furthermore, entrance to university should be possible for any semester or term and not just in the spring, as has been traditionally the case.
There should not be any age limits on students wishing to study at university. If an individual is able to do the studies, whether he or she is very young or very old, should not matter. I think there are many retired individuals who would welcome an opportunity to study in a university again. Being retired and more mature, I believe they would certainly find the experience very rewarding and the university would equally be rewarded by the life experiences these retired individuals could share with younger people.
Liberalization can only succeed, though, if the universities also become unencumbered from their bureaucratic attitudes and practices. Both administrative staff and professors need to become more progressive and innovative. To be able to do so, though, means the Ministry of Education should allow them to experiment and conduct their business as they wish. Those which can attract students and turn out graduates of high quality will succeed and prosper, while those unable to do so will fall by the wayside. Private universities should be given the freedom to succeed or fail on their own merits without government interference.