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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 December 25 - 2014 January 7  > Grad students survey displays their financial difficulties
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2013 December 25 - 2014 January 7 [EDUCATION]

Grad students survey displays their financial difficulties

December 24 & 25, 2013
Graduate students are experiencing financial difficulties due to high tuition fees and limited income, and concerned about their future, according to survey results recently released by a national council of graduate students.

The council has conducted a questionnaire survey for 10 years to assess the actual state of graduate students. This year, 798 students in 51 national, public or private graduate schools across the nation responded to the survey.

According to the survey results, 62.1% respondents have a part-time job. Their main purpose in working part time is to cover their living expenses, tuition fees, and study costs (94.8%). Meanwhile, 60.4% of students working part time said that their jobs prevent them from having enough time and energy for their studies.

Among respondents, 60% answered that economic difficulties adversely affect their academic work. Of the 60%, 48.1% said that they cannot afford to purchase all of the required materials and books needed.

Regarding a question to students willing to obtain doctoral degrees about their concerns, financial worries was the most common answer, accounting for 58.5%, followed by uneasiness about finding a job (58.3%) and anxiety for their future (49.7%)

More than half of graduate students depend on scholarship loans

While the Japanese government last year accepted an UN provision requiring member nations to gradually introduce free higher education, graduate students in Japan are still suffering from high tuition fees and a lack of grant-type public scholarship programs.

Graduate school students in national universities are required to pay a total of 818,000 yen on average for admission and tuition fees in their first year. For graduate students of public universities, the average amount of the payment is 919,000 yen. As for private universities, the students have to pay 1,040,000 yen and 893,000 yen for master courses and doctoral courses respectively.

Under these circumstances, 55.3% of graduate students surveyed receive or have received loan-type scholarships.

Regarding the total amount of scholarship debts a respondent through his/her school days from high school incurred, 7.6% answered less than 1 million yen, 22.0% said less than 2 million yen, and 20.7% replied less than 3 million yen. On the other hand, 2.9% have more than 10 million yen of debt.

While many developed countries have grant-type scholarship programs, Japan’s major public scholarship provider, the Japan Student Services Organization, has only loan-type scholarship programs and three fourths of them are interest-bearing.

Of students receiving scholarship loans, 48.3% said they are “deeply concerned” about repayments, and 32.1% said they are “a little concerned”, totaling 80.4%.

One of the respondents in an optional comment space wrote, “I don’t get financial support for research activities, and my debt is piling up by having to use my scholarship loan to pay my tuition fees.” Another answered, “My debt will exceed 10 million yen including interests. Under these circumstances, will Japan’s academic world be maintained?”

Past related articles
> Gov’t should stop harsh collection of scholarship loans: JCP Miyamoto [April 1&2, 2013]
> Society with lack of access to higher education for economic reasons has no future [February 27, 2013]
> Gov’t accepts international covenant on free higher education [September 14, 2012]
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