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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 February 27 - March 5  > Society with lack of access to higher education for economic reasons has no future
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2013 February 27 - March 5 [EDUCATION]
editorial 

Society with lack of access to higher education for economic reasons has no future

February 27, 2013
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

More than half of college students use some kind of student loan while tuition fees remain high, and more young people are struggling to repay school loans.

The Japan Student Services Organization announced that as of March 2012, about 330,000 people are behind in their student loan repayments. More than 60% of those behind in their repayments cite a drop in income as the reason for their inability in paying back educational funds they borrowed during their student days. About 55% of those in arrear work in temporary jobs or are unemployed. Out of the 330,000, 89.3% live on an income of less than three million yen a year.

Among student loan programs, 75% charge a large amount of interest on the repayments. If one takes out a loan of 120,000 yen a month for four years, the interest alone will amount to nearly two million yen. The current system harshly collects the outstanding credit, adds delinquent charges to late payments, and put them on financial institutions’ blacklists.

Such a cruel system makes many young people give up taking out student loans and accordingly give up continuing their study, calling into question the loan-type “scholarships” which are prevalent in Japan.

Half of 34 OECD member countries provide tuition-free universities and 32 nations introduce grant-type scholarships not requiring students to repay.

The Japanese government last September decided to accept an article of the International Covenant on Human Rights calling for generally available and accessible secondary education and equally accessible higher education.

The government, however, did not even submit a request for budget allocations for the next fiscal year starting in April although it did request an allocation of budgets for the introduction of grant-type scholarships, though only partially, for this year’s budget request.

A society which tolerates exclusion from higher education for economic reasons has no future. It is time to introduce a system of grant-type scholarship programs in Japan while hastening reforms in the present system by adopting interest-free scholarships and granting a moratorium on or exemption from repayments.

Related past articles:
> Gov’t accepts international covenant on free higher education [September 14, 2012]
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