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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 May 7 - 13  > Poor gov’t support drives young people away from entering university
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2014 May 7 - 13 [WELFARE]

Poor gov’t support drives young people away from entering university

May 11, 2014
Japan has no grant-type scholarship program and, what is even worse, university students have to pay high tuition fees which rank near the top in the world. This situation is unique among the 34 OECD countries.

In Japan, an average freshman in a private university pays 1.31 million yen as admission and tuition fees, and a national university student 810,000 yen. In contrast, students in a state university in the United States and in a French national university pay 610,000 yen and 24,000 yen respectively in their first year, and students in Finland can receive free university education.

A survey by the Tokyo Federation of Private University Faculty and Staff Unions shows that 90% of respondents said the cost of enrolling in a private university is “burdensome”. Financial support to private university students from their parents are declining. Their living expenses, which is calculated by subtracting the student’s rent from allowance received from home, stands at 937 yen per day in 2013, which is only 40% of the amount of 2,460 yen in 1990, according to the same survey.

At the University of Tokyo, which is a national university, 80% of its students have part-time jobs. Of them, 31.7% are doing so in order to cover living expenses and more than half think that they are so busy working part-time that they cannot do their schoolwork, a survey by the university reveals.

In a survey on part-time workers conducted by the National Federation of Consumers’ Cooperatives Workers’ Unions, one of the parents said, “Our application for a bank loan was turned down because of our low level of income, and we had to make our child give up on college and go to work.”

Chiba University Professor Emeritus Miwa Sadanobu, who heads a citizens group seeking free education and promotion of a scholarship program, commented as follows:

Many countries are paying a larger amount on educational spending. The Danish government, for example, provides 53,000 yen to university students living with their parents and 107,000 yen to those living by themselves, regardless of their income level. Educational costs are shared among the society there.

In contrast, the Japanese government has increased tuition fees at national universities in order to reduce its educational expenditures since the 1970s. As a result, Japan’s tuitions became the highest in the world.

Japan’s government expenditure on education is only 3.6% of GDP. If the ratio is raised to the international average of 5.4%, both free university education and a grant-type scholarship program can be implemented.
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