Students oppose plan to cut scholarship

The government-administered scholarship, which is the lifeline for
hundreds of thousands of students, is facing a danger of a major cut or

Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro is planning to propose to the Cabinet
meeting reductions or abolition of the scholarship operated by the Japan
Scholarship Foundation and replace it with private educational loans. This
is part of his plan to transfer services by government-controlled public
corporations to the private sector.

Under the present system, most of those students using the scholarship
system have to repay with interest after graduation. And yet scholarships
are necessary because higher education in Japan is very costly.

College tuition fees have been increasing year by year. The tuition of a
national university freshman increased from 16,000 yen in 1970 to 774,000
yen in 2001. In a private university, a freshman in 1970 paid 229,000 yen
and in 2001, 1.28 million yen.

A third year student of the Tokyo Metropolitan University is receiving a
scholarship stipend of 47,000 yen per month which he will have to pay back
after graduation. Without the scholarship, he couldn't have entered the
university because his parents' income from agriculture is only two million
yen a year.

He said, "The Japan Scholarship Foundation is different from those
government-backed corporations which are being criticized for wasting
taxpayers' money on public works. Scholarships must be maintained."

All Japan Federation of Student Unions (Zengakuren) President Kobayashi
Masahiro said that scholarships must be extended to help students in
difficulties caused by the economic recession and increasing educational

In the signature collection drive Zengakuren has carried out since last
September, more than 15,000 people have expressed opposition to the adverse
revision of scholarship programs. (end)