Japan/August 18, 2022/By Matthew Knott/Source: https://studytravel.network/
In a press conference recently, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Shinsuke Suematsu spoke on the value of international education and the government’s plans to bring more international students to Japan and restore the government’s Tobitate! Ryugaku Japan scheme, which encourages outbound study abroad.
He said that in order to revive international student exchanges, which had been stagnant due to the pandemic, MEXT is developing a strategy for inbound and outbound numbers.
“Therefore, by 2027, five years from now, we have set out a policy direction with the aim of restoring the acceptance of foreign students and the number of Japanese students studying abroad to at least the level before the coronavirus crisis,” he said.
He said that the government would like to increase the recruitment of international students and develop industry-academia-government collaboration to retain students in key areas and address skills shortages in Japan.
“The number of foreign students studying in Japan has decreased due to the impact of the coronavirus disaster, and the number of Japanese students studying abroad has also decreased sharply. This situation continues, and the employment rate in Japan is also declining, which has a serious impact on securing excellent human resources that support our country,” he said.
He indicated that international students were now returning to Japan since the reopening of the borders to students on March 1st this year, and that now was the time for the Ministry to reset policy and reactivate the sector.
Apart from a short window of opening prior to the discovery of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, Japan’s borders were closed to international students for almost two years.
Government statistics released by the Japan Student Services Organisation (JASSO) showed that the number of international students in Japan as of May 1st 2021 had decreased by 13.3 per cent overall compared with the previous year, with the long-term language sector the most affected at -33.3 per cent.
It is likely that the 2022 data will show a larger decrease given that the borders were closed for most of 2021 and early 2022. The May 2021 data also included students who had completed enrolment procedures but may not have actually been able to enter the country.
Japan-based inbound agency Go! Go! World conducted a survey of 3,115 International students locked out of Japan early this year, and found that a significant number were considering cancelling or switching to another destination if they could not enter Japan soon.
Outbound data released by JASSO, focused on students on study abroad mobility as part of their Japanese university degree cited a 98 per cent decrease in mobility in 2020.
Meanwhile, Japanese agency association JAOS found that its 42 agency members only sold 6,109 face-to-face study abroad programmes in 2021, less than 10 per cent of the pre-pandemic total in 2019. However, agencies had some success in online courses, which outsold physical study abroad courses in 2021.