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New enrollments at 46% of private Japanese universities not filled in 2021

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What is not even mentioned is that COVID played a HUGE part in the overall drop, as many HS students decided to stay closer to home, and enter local colleges and technical colleges!

When the economy takes a plunge, historically speaking, technical colleges see a jump in enrollment because they are better equipped and have infinitely more experience at finding employment for their students.

So much so, that MEXT has even made it possible for technical colleges, up until quite recently ALL private institutions, to become what are called "semon-shoku daigaku and "senmon-shoku tanki-dai", which allows schools that have applied for and passed the rigorous application process, to receive the same funding for students that national and private universities receive.

Employment policies have changed dramatically as well over the past few years, pre-covid included, as many mid-to small size, and even some large multi-nationals, no longer are just looking for university graduates, and want employees that have some knowledge or experience in the fields they are being hired for, hence the necessity for a college degree is not quite as important as it once was.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

The university system is gradually collapsing due to the dearth of children to fill the lecture theatres. Slowly but surely institutions will consolidate, starting with the less prestigious end of the scale. Retiring professors will not be replaced and Japan's research output will shrink further.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Refuse entry to international students and this is not surprising. Why not let them in now?

5 ( +10 / -5 )

A weird use of statistics here.

the fill rate of places available at overall private universities dropped by 2.8 percentage points to 99.8 percent,

So 99.8% of places are filled, but the headline says

New enrollments at 46% of private Japanese universities not filled

presumably meaning 46% of private (=more costly than public) universities have one or more unfilled places. One unfilled place on one course is hardly going to collapse a private university.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

A reduction in fees, more online and continuing education with reasonable equivilacy credits would be a start in possibly increasing student numbers.

I know plenty of Japanese that either have only a high school, technical school or 2 year college degree.

They would gladly enroll in a university degree program if adult education was more flexible.

And even more people I know would go for something like an MBA if online and more flexibility. ( I know many now doing their online MBA through Western universities online struggling having to do it in English).

Few if any Japanese universities offer credit for experience, most have a cut off for equivalency credit for course of 5 or 10 years so someone with a 2 year college degree from 10 years ago gets zero course credits meaning they have to complete a full 4 years and if offered online that becomes 6, 7, 8 years.

Time for Japanese universities to come into the 21st century.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

And the application process is very expensive and time consuming. Many private universities have their own entrance exams costing hundreds of dollars to apply in addition to standardized tests. I estimate I had to pay 3000 dollars just for applications and test fees when my son applied to about 5 universities.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Now international students to do baito.

So who is going to work in 20-30 years?

Since 70-80 they said "robots" will do the work for us, yet it is 2021, and still I can't see any.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

You reap what you sow. Drop the stupid 200,000 yen deposits just for applying, and make tuition cheaper, and offer better programs.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

RecklessToday  09:19 am JST

Yep same here for my Daughter and son.

Many argue the reason for the high fees are to stop people from applying at many universities and then passing and not going because they chose another school.

Another problem is that in many cases similarly ranked universities offering similar degrees as a rival will schedule their entrance exams on the same day forcing the students to chose one or the other to apply to.

This again goes back to if they pass both entrance exams they may pick the other school.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

What is not even mentioned is that COVID played a HUGE part in the overall drop, as many HS students decided to stay closer to home, and enter local colleges and technical colleges!

Seems in contradiction with this

By region, the fill rate in the three major metropolitan areas of greater Tokyo, greater Osaka, and Aichi Prefecture was 100.6 percent, while the rate in other regions fell sharply by 6.2 percentage points to 97.3 percent.

The fall in entrants outside the metropolitan areas has been attributed to the declining birthrate in less densely populated regions and expanded financial support by the education ministry, which has made it easier for students from poor families to live in cities.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Regardless of the pandemic many Japanese universities have already been facing the low enrollment (leading to financial shortfall). Their ad hoc solution is to take in more foreign students, which the covid crisis has ruined. Structural reforms are necessary.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

While those offering 3,000 or more places were 99.9 percent filled, representing little change from the previous year, those accepting between 300 and 400 students were only 95.2 percent filled, a drop of around 9.2 percentage points.

This here I think is the key statistic.

Larger and more prestigious universities aren't (yet) being affected by the demographic shift because they have always gotten way more applicants than they have spots for. They have fewer applicants now, but still more than they have spaces for. The downside for them is that some of the lower tier students they are accepting now likely wouldn't have gotten in a decade ago, so the quality of the student body might be declining. This doesn't affect their bottom line though.

In contrast, the smaller, regional universities are getting hit hard by this. 95.2 percent might sound good, but if they aren't fully filling their positions it means they have probably already lowered their admissions standards as far as they can go ("If they have a pulse, they are in") and still aren't getting enough bodies to fill seats. Universities run on very tight margins so even a 5% decline in student numbers can be disastrous, especially if it is a persistent and growing trend (might be 10% a couple years from now).

Smaller universities also face another obstacle, which is that they aren't well placed to tap into the only alternative source of students out there - international students. A lot of the top universities have set up programs taught entirely in English specifically to draw in those students, but smaller universities can't really compete at that level .

Most of those universities will likely have to shut down or merge with larger ones in the coming years.

What is not even mentioned is that COVID played a HUGE part in the overall drop, as many HS students decided to stay closer to home, and enter local colleges and technical colleges!

Covid has likely had some effect, but I don't think it is a huge one. The downward trend has been proceeding for several years before Covid hit. And while some students might want to stay closer to home, I don't see how Covid would be driving them to attend a technical college closer to home rather than a university closer to home. I mean, you cite some arguments in favor of choosing technical colleges which might sway some students, but the fact is that admissions to those schools are going down year-on-year as well so there hasn't been any huge shift towards them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Something missing from this story is the govt's crackdown that started a few years back on private unis exceeding their quotas. Many private unis would routinely admit more students than they were officially permitted to. For example, a certain dept at a private uni was allowed to admit 100 students a year and would accept 115 or so. Some of this was intentional ("get 'em while you can") and some was not (you really have no idea how many students will accept their admission and how many will go to another uni, so you "best guess" how many will accept - sometimes it is over and sometimes under the official quota).

Anyway, a lot of the bigger private unis were really abusing this and accepting almost double their quota, which led to a lot of bad situations (poor student faculty ratios, overcrowding, etc), the worst of all being fewer students going to public universities, especially local (県立) ones. The govt wanted more students at these schools, so they started to withdraw funding and support for any private unis that exceeded their quotas, even by a single student. My uni started passing fewer students on the entrance exam than the actual quota: dept A's quota is 150 students, so pass only 145, that way we are sure not to go over the quota.

So, now the private universities, which were often 滑り止め for national unis, became harder to get accepted to, which led to fewer people applying (private uni A is harder to get into than local public uni A, so might as well use local public A as my 滑り止め for the national uni), which has helped lead to the current situation. The irony is, now many local public unis are exceeding their quotas with no repercussions while private unis are either losing students or having to go through a tortuous process to raise their quotas. So, mission accomplished?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The irony is, now many local public unis are exceeding their quotas with no repercussions while private unis are either losing students or having to go through a tortuous process to raise their quotas. 

This is not accurate, public universities are very strictly controlled by the Ministry in setting their admissions numbers and are penalized for going over them. Due to the impossibility of scoring a bullseye and admitting the exact target number the Ministry does allow a small proportion of over admits, but (IIRC) I think these must be within 5% or so of the target number. Admitting more than that results in penalties.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The actual reduction in numbers is miniscule. In light of SARSCoV-2, it is no surprise.

The typical array of responses from the unknowing, citing opinions alongside cultivated prejudice of understanding.

The university where I work, is instituting a policy that will eventually lead to 10% of the student body will be international students. Similar for other private schools. That atop a big fat endowment will keep the machine rolling along.

As for demographics. The population of Japan was 100 million 50 years ago.

The current reduction in population, means less students, unless there is allowance for free-paid tuition and living subsidies. Enabling all who wish to attend the university a chance to do so on merit.

Reduced enrollment, however, is hardly a crisis.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Seems in contradiction with this

Yes it is, as the decline in population is always used as an excuse. Looking at population demographics it's obvious that the metropolitan areas schools will be close to 100%, along with the more prestigious one's as well.

What has to be included is the numbers of students who did not opt for college and chose to stay closer to home and study at technical schools instead.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Enabling all who wish to attend the university a chance to do so on merit.

Merit is a big part of the problem though.

Mid and low tier universities are having to reduce their admissions standards so low that almost anyone applies, provided they fulfill the requirements, can get in. If you are letting everyone in like that, there is almost no room for a consideration of merit in the admissions process.

Even at the top universities there is concern that they are having to lower their admissions standards to attract students.

Reduced enrollment, however, is hardly a crisis.

This depends on how you define "crisis" and who you are asking. Its definitely not a crisis for larger, prestigious universities which still have a large pool of applicants to choose from. It definitely is a crisis for most institutions below them though since they simply cannot survive in anything like their current form. We already know based on how many children were born last year in Japan how many 18 year olds will be graduating from high school in 2038, and there is just nowhere near enough to go around.

Internationalization is not going to save most of those universities either, institutionally its only the larger ones that are equipped to compete for international students.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I’ll take one for free. Offers welcome anytime… But you are most probably not interested in broader higher education for the society, instead maximum stingy and keen on collecting more money. lol

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

As for demographics. The population of Japan was 100 million 50 years ago.

This observation is so spurious it is idiotic. Lets compare the RELEVANT age groups between fifty years ago and now:

In the 1970 census the population of 15-19 year olds was 9.06 million.

In the 2020 census the population of 15-19 year olds was 5.68 million.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Just more demographics fun, but in 1920 Japan's population was 55 million and rapidly growing, with 20.4 million 14 or under. In 2015, it was 125 million, with 15.8 million 14 or under. The number of under 14s is shrinking at about a 200,000 a year pace.

Some private universities have fees comfortably over 1.5 million a year for science courses. With Japanese wages for mothers and the expectation that parents pay, that's a lot of money, with living costs on top.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What has to be included is the numbers of students who did not opt for college and chose to stay closer to home and study at technical schools instead.

Yes, point clearer now though the only thing that happened was I read it again =)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Don't worry, people! Japanese universities will be mysteriously filled with Chinese and Vietnamese students very soon when the lockdowns are lifted.

More like visa workers.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The problem is first and foremost democratic. There are not enough 18 year olds. The current steep decline started with the crash of 1990 (along with other factors.). To make a long story short, the result of a drop in the number of child who were either near born or aborted.

Now the pandemic. Thanks to ZOOM you now have students studying through the Internet.

For students who want brick and mortar universities there are a lot to chose from and the competition is not a stiff. Students will likely go for state schools which are cheaper and often better than private schools.

There are still the bottom feeders universities that will take people if they simply able to sign their names.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I meant to write "demographic."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Having taught at Japanese universities, when it came time for my children to attend college, I sent them both to America. The lack of fees and lower tuition and housing costs more than paid for all of the airfare, and they returned fluent in English and American society and both were flummoxed on how to deal with all of the job offerings tossed their way.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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