For some time now, schools in Japan have been feeling the crunch of their aging society, and the plummeting number of potential students that come with it. One such place is Hanazono University in Kyoto City, a modest school offering various courses in the humanities and boasting a student body of between one and two thousand.
However, in recent years they have been struggling to get more than ten people at a time to take their entrance exams. It’s a scene that paints a bleak future of possible extinction for the higher learning institute. So in dire times like these one must adapt if they hope to survive.
Hanazono has taken the bull by the horns and established the “100 Years of Learning Scholarship” aimed at wooing in the rapidly growing population of people over 50 to fill the gap left by the dwindling number of young students.
The way the scholarship works is simple: the decade of your age corresponds to the amount deducted from your tuition. For example, if you’re 62 years old, a four-year undergraduate course in literature that would cost a regular student 3,184,000 yen in tuition would only set you back 1,273,600 yen which amounts to 60 percent off.
Likewise, people in their 50s get 50 percent off, 70s get 70 percent, and so on. In the end, anyone over the age of 100 will be eligible for four years of post secondary education absolutely free of tuition. This scholarship is not currently available for graduate courses, however.
The generally younger people reading the news online were less than happy about their seniors getting great deals on the education that they are eagerly seeking themselves.
“How about giving us young people a break instead, eh?”
“Who’s going to school at the age of 100?”
“Interesting. You’d see people of all ages in school together.”
“What about raising young people to be the future of the country and all that?”
“Is the university liable when students start passing away there?”
“A university that cannot invest in the future is worthless.”
“Really, would 20 percent off for people in their 20s be so bad?”
The first recipients of the 100 Years of Learning Scholarship will begin classes next spring, and time will tell how it will affect Hanazono University. While lowering tuition for all would have appeased the disgruntled voices on the Internet, it probably only would have sped up the small school’s demise as the numbers simply aren’t there to compensate for it.
Enticing people over 50 to come study social work or Japanese history is far from a guarantee of success either, but it’s only those schools which can adapt to the times that can survive.
Hanazono’s scholarship recruitment encourages applicants by saying, “If you change yourself, you change the world,” but it seems like they’re speaking to themselves too.
Source: Asahi Shimbun, ReseMom, Hachima Kiko
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