To help contain the spread of the coronavirus, many Japanese universities have closed or transitioned to online classes to keep their students and staff safe. However, that also means that access to resources like university libraries is also cut off, and with internet cafes also closed, students who don’t have a computer don’t have the ability to access their online classes.
That’s why Meiji Gakuin University has decided to give all 12,000 of their students a uniform grant of 50,000 yen each, to help offset the costs of online learning. It’s meant to aid students who don’t have an at-home internet connection or a computer, but undoubtedly the funds will also help those who have lost their jobs stay afloat until they can go back to work again.
The university, which closed both its Tokyo and Yokohama campuses on April 8, made the emergency decision to provide the grant with the desire to “reduce even a little bit of the financial burden on our students”. Since they extended the closure and use of online classes to May 20, that’s likely a big help for many. The 600 million yen required for the grants has been taken from the reserves of the university’s scholarship fund.
Meiji Gakuin University is also considering relief measures for students whose families’ incomes have been drastically affected by the pandemic, such as a special scholarship for students whose parents lost their jobs. The due date for tuition payments was also extended from the end of April to the end of May, though the university does not appear to be considering reducing tuition or fees for its students at the moment.
According to the Ministry of Education in Japan, about 80 percent of universities throughout the country have transitioned to online classes, but many are using video conferencing applications that require heavy data use. To save money, many students don’t sign up for internet services in their apartments and simply use their phones for browsing, meaning the switch to online learning could put them over their data limits and cost them heavy fees.
Hopefully the new grant will help Meiji Gakuin students, whether it gets them the supplies they need or helps them pay their bills and eat for one more month.
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