There is good news for international exchange students to Japan that they may be eligible for a government grant of 100,000 Yen (US$850).
NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster, made the news yesterday. The fund’s goal is to assist those who have been financially impacted by the pandemic. This holds true for transfer students enrolled in Japanese universities and vocational schools.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated earlier this week that the government would boost the daily entrance threshold from 5,000 to 7,000 beginning March 14, with priority given to students who have been stuck overseas.
According to reports, 100,000 international students may return to the country by the end of May. In a tweet, Taro Kono, chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party’s Public Relations Headquarters, revealed that the Ministry of Education is now working on admitting 10,000 international students to Japan each week.
Overall, nearly 150,000 overseas students are awaiting admission to Japan. It’s uncertain how many students will return to the Land of the Rising Sun after having their patience tested for more than two years.
Since the start of Covid-19, Japan has adopted some of the most stringent border restrictions, which have kept many visitors out. This led to a brief halt in the admission of foreign exchange students to the country, which had been a popular exchange destination before the pandemic because of its modern technology and rich cultural legacy.
The University of Tokyo sent 49 students abroad last year but was unable to reciprocate to international universities.
“Universities in English-speaking countries are particularly sensitive about imbalances in the number of exchange students,” Hiroshi Ota, a professor at Hitotsubashi University, was quoted saying. He foresees a further decline in the acceptance of Japanese exchange students abroad by participating universities this fall semester if the situation persists.
The impact is already affecting educational partnerships in the country: research-intensive universities with a global reputation, such as the University of California, Johns Hopkins University, McGill University, and the Australian National University, have all stopped sending students to Japan.
According to The Japan Times, 104 students at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, which regularly accepts 600 to 700 foreign students per year, have been unable to enter the country since April of last year.
Toshifumi Takao, director of the university’s student exchange section, stated that “the entry limitations have sent a bad message” to students thinking about studying in Japan. The drop in international student numbers has concerned university administrators in the country, who are worried that ambitious students will abandon their studies in favour of countries with more accommodating travel policies.
“After finishing their studies at the university and going home, there would be few people who can tell their juniors about the good qualities of Waseda,” a Waseda University administrator was reported as saying.
According to The Japan Times, the number of international students enrolled at the institution declined by 1,588 by the conclusion of the school year in March 2021 compared to the previous year. The institution is concerned that the declining numbers will have an impact on its abroad promotion plan in the future.
As per a January 2022 survey undertaken by an international student support organization, 45.1 per cent of 3,115 students planning to study in Japan were considering cancelling, with 22.5 per cent not ruling out the possibility of cancelling altogether.
“Other countries have kept their borders open to students during the pandemic while Japan has been increasingly seen as unwelcoming, slow, complicated, and unstable. Some have even questioned Japan’s commitment to global education,” writes Matthew Wilson, Dean, and President of Temple University, Japan.
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