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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 March 21 - 27  > Increase education budget, slash world’s highest college tuition fees
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2007 March 21 - 27 [SOCIAL ISSUES]
editorial 

Increase education budget, slash world’s highest college tuition fees

March 24, 2007
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

As the new school year approaching, many households are concerned about high college tuition fees. A freshman at national universities has to pay about 820,000 yen a year in the standard case, 45 times more than in 1970. A private university freshman has to pay around 1.31 million yen on average, nine times more than in 1970.

Pressed by strong opposition from universities and students, the government shelved its plan to raise the national university standard tuition fee in FY 2007. But the government raised the maximum tuition fees that national universities may impose on their students from 110 percent to 120 percent of the standard tuition fee. At the same time, the government is going to cut subsidies to national and private universities by 1 percent a year for the next five years. With reduction in subsidies amounting to 100,000-yen per student in national universities and 10,000-yen in private universities, this plan will inevitably force an increase in tuition.

The government and ruling parties are claiming a reduction in educational expenses in their policies to deal with the declining birthrate. However, with their policy of “improving a system by which students themselves can pay for education costs,” they intend to shift the heavy burden to students from their parents. This policy of “improving” school loans will place students under much pressure to pay back their debts after graduation.

To reduce tuitions step by step, aiming at a free college education is the way to deal with the falling birthrate.

Many people now feel that there are inequalities in education brought about by differences in parents’ income. Amid the increasing poverty and social disparities, it is urgently needed for the government to take measures to support students so that every student can finish higher education as they wish regardless of their economic circumstances.

Applications of tens of thousands of national university students for reduction and exemption of tuition are turned down every year due to the severe screening standards and the limited quota of less than 10 percent approval for all students. The same system in private universities accepts fewer applicants since the state provides these universities only one-fifth of the amount of subsidy given to national universities. The government must drastically increase its support for higher education.

The government must also sincerely respond to a Japan Student Services Organization proposal for the establishment of a scholarship with no obligation to repay for low-income earners. Local municipalities also need to increase budgets for their own scholarship programs that have been largely scaled down in the past few years.

Japan’s university tuition is known as the highest in the world. It has established no state scholarship but only student loans. Japan’s budget for tertiary education is 0.6 percent of its GDP, ranking the lowest among OECD member states (the average is 1.3 percent). We strongly urge the government to increase the education budget and reduce tuition burdens on the public as soon as possible. - Akahata, March 24, 2007

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