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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 April 22 - May 12  > Students’ economic and learning situations adversely affected by COVID-19
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2020 April 22 - May 12 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Students’ economic and learning situations adversely affected by COVID-19

April 22, 2020
Amid the coronavirus crisis, students in many universities and colleges across Japan are forming groups to call for reducing their financial burdens associated with tuition fee payments. An online signature collection campaign in support of this call is underway under the hashtag, “#COVID19 tuition problem”.

The spread of COVID-19 has forced businesses and universities to close their doors. As a consequence, many students have lost their incomes from part-time jobs while many parents have suffered income decreases. Students’ learning situation has also been severely affected.

A sophomore at a university in Yamanashi Prefecture said to Akahata, “I live alone and do not receive a remittance from my parents. I work two part-time jobs, but operations at both workplaces have been suspended which makes me worry about my financial situation.”

Classes are available online at most universities. However, those who do not have a computer and Internet at home have difficulties in attending these classes. Many students are calling for a free rental of computers.

A graduate student in a national university in Tokyo said that he/she cannot conduct research activities as libraries and labs are currently not available. Under this circumstance, many graduate students are demanding that the deadline for their thesis be extended.

Saito Koki, a junior in a private university in Tokyo, serves as the secretary general of the civil group FREE which is demanding tuition-free higher education. He pointed out that the government has compiled an emergency economic policy package to combat COVID-19, but the package does not include measures to support students who work part-time jobs to cover tuition fees and living expenses. He said that his organization is urging the government to implement measures to assist students who will be in position to create the future of Japan.

A group consisting of labor unions and civil organizations working for an improved scholarship program demands that the government cut university tuition fees, provide students with a 100,000 yen-scholarship payment per month during the academic year, and support students who cannot attend online classes.

The Japanese Communist Party in its urgent proposal published on April 16 underscores the need to ensure that student part-time workers will be able to maintain at least 80% of their income and that students will receive the refund of tuition fees. The JCP also urged the government to grant a moratorium on the repayment of student loans.
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