Japan: International students nearly back to pre-pandemic levels

User Profile Image

By admin

Posted on June 7, 2024


3 min read

Whatsapp Facebook LinkedIn

The Japan Student Services Organization’s annual report, which was made public in May 2024, showed that there had been a gain in foreign enrollment for the first time in the four years since Japan had relaxed its rigorous Covid rules. 

The statistic demonstrates the early achievements of Japan’s bold internationalization agenda, which prime minister Kishida pledged would see 400,000 foreign students study in Japan by 2023.  

Kuniko Takeda, deputy director of international affairs at Japan’s ministry of education described the elements fueling the recent rise as Japan’s unique culture, its reputation as a safe and economical country, its academic research environment, and the network of previous overseas students returning home.

As of May 1, 2023, there were about 280,000 foreign students studying in Japan, according to the report. This figure was driven by a record number of students enrolled in Japanese language schools, an increase of 83% from the previous year.  

Takeda stated that as many students would enroll in higher education after completing their Japanese language courses, the spike in language students is anticipated to portend longer-term expansion of the larger international student population.

It was disclosed that the number of Japanese students studying overseas had doubled from 2022 to 2023, returning to 83% of pre-covid levels, only days before Japan’s incoming student statistics were made public.  

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida declared that studying overseas was “the key to transforming society” when he unveiled Japan’s new internationalization plan in April 2023.  

When considered collectively, the studies show the early effectiveness of Kishida’s two-pronged internationalization approach, which strives to increase both outward and incoming student mobility.  

Japan exceeded its earlier target of 300,000 foreign students in 2018, but since it closed its borders for the longest amount of time among other nations during the pandemic, the country’s student population did not quickly rebound. 

JASSO, the semi-autonomous agency for inbound internationalization, reports that there were 231,150 foreign students enrolled in Japan in 2022, the lowest number since 2015. 

In keeping with the results of INTO’s worldwide agent survey, which demonstrated the growing significance of cultural and geographic proximity in influencing study abroad decisions in Asia, the 2023 statistics showed that all five of the largest source markets were from Asian nations.  

Furthermore, students from less developed nations like Nepal and Myanmar find studying in Japan to be appealing due to the relative affordability of its higher education. 

With an annual tuition of ¥640,000 ($4,200) even with a recent hike in foreign student fees, Japan is far more affordable than the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, which are the top study abroad countries.

Experts caution that in order for Japan to meet its goal of 400,000 foreign students by 2033, it will need to diversify its student body and lessen its reliance on Chinese students. 

The University of Tokyo announced in February 2024 that 50% of its new five-year combined bachelor’s and master’s degree program would be taught in English and Japanese to international students.

There is disagreement over the usefulness of internationalization approaches that use English instruction, with experts cautioning that they impede integration and cast doubt on the caliber and standards of English language instruction.  

According to the research, Waseda University in Tokyo had the greatest number of overseas students at 5,560 in 2023, followed by UTokyo, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto University, and Osaka University.