Considering studying in Japan? Read our guide to find out everything you need to know about Japanese universities and culture, and what steps to take next.
Known for making things smaller, faster, and above all first, Japan was until recently the second-largest economy in the world (it’s now third, behind the US and China).
Its economic strength is at least partly due to the strong research and development industry that underlies successful international brands such as Nissan, Toyota, Panasonic, Canon and Sony – as well as producing robots for every need imaginable.
Unsurprisingly, an excellent higher education system lies behind all this innovation. In the 2013/14 QS World University Rankings, the highest ranked Japanese universities are the University of Tokyo at 32nd, Kyoto University at 35th and Osaka University at 55th.
Why study in Japan?
If you fancy studying in Japan, the homeland of the bullet train, Nintendo Wii, instant noodles in a pot and of course karaoke, you’ll be pleased to know Japan wants you too.
The government is keen to attract more international students, and has set a target of having 300,000 foreign students in the country by 2020 (it reached the 100,000 mark in 2003). As a result, universities are doing all they can to make life easier for foreign students, from the application process all the way through to finding a job after graduation.
One thing that will certainly make life easier for many international students is the introduction of more courses taught partly or entirely in English. Other schemes to attract more overseas students include:
- Hiring special staff to support international students,
- Allowing students to start courses in September (instead of April, which is when Japan’s academic year usually starts),
- Recruiting more teaching staff from outside Japan,
- Increasing exchange programs with universities in other countries.
Aware that living and studying in Japan is expensive compared to many countries, the government has also introduced additional financial support for foreign students. Various university scholarships and grants are available through the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO).
Japan has approximately 780 universities, of which about 80% are private. There are also specialized schools and colleges that provide more vocational types of degree.
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