Despite optimism among overseas students returning to Japan after a nearly two-year wait, a poll has shown that the number of students leaving Japan to study abroad plummeted by an astounding 98 percent in 2020.
The number of students moving overseas for a term of study fell to just 1,487 in a poll done by the Japan Student Services Organization, which looked at students who were initially from Japanese universities.
The Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on Japan’s outbound study business, with many students opting to stay in the nation to finish their university studies.
Since statistics became available in 2009, it was the greatest reduction in pupils ever witnessed. South Korea was the most preferred study location among the tiny group of students, with 265 enrolling — down about 7,000 from the previous year. Following Japan, the United States, where 240 people travelled to study compared to over 18,000 the year before, and Canada, where the number decreased from 189 to slightly over 9,000.
The most likely cause of the reduction was stringent border restrictions, which caused most students to postpone – or cancel – their study abroad plans. Despite the tumultuous timeframe for Japan’s foreign student policy, both inbound and outgoing, the situation is steadily improving, with the border gradually opening after an announcement in April. An education ministry official said, “We expect the infection situation to improve and international travel to resume.
“We will work to provide information and other support to students,” they continued.
International students were described as a “treasure to Japan” at the time of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s declaration on March 3, and the maximum number of students permitted to enter each day was increased on March 14.
While the news for students wishing to enter Japan has improved, there is currently little more data available on the situation of outgoing students in Japan beyond this JASSO poll. Although 2021 was a better year for student migration internationally, Japan’s border limitations, which will persist until March 2022, make it difficult to predict when incoming and outgoing numbers will recover.
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