Japanese students eager for overseas study after pandemic delays

Tokyo University of Foreign Studies Vice President for Educational Affairs Taku Shinohara notes that students who had been patient are now enrolling in longer overseas study programs as the impact of COVID-19 stabilizes.

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There remains a strong demand this summer for overseas study among Japanese college students. This surge comes after three years of pent-up frustration due to the limitations caused by the ongoing pandemic.

Taku Shinohara, vice president for educational affairs at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, noted that students who had been patient are now enrolling in longer overseas study programs as the impact of COVID-19 stabilizes.

This summer, a record number of 279 students are planning to embark on extended overseas study programs, which the university defines as lasting for at least five months.

There has been a shift in the university’s approach to short-term study abroad programs as well. In the past, these programs were mostly undertaken by freshmen, but this summer, sophomores, and juniors are also participating.

Shinohara noted that the frustration of students who had long wanted to study abroad has built up due to the limitations imposed by the pandemic. Despite the higher costs of international flights and living abroad, families are actively supporting students in pursuing their study abroad goals.

Showa Women’s University in Tokyo, known for its impressive track record in job placement among women’s universities with over 1,000 graduates, has experienced a change in its ranking. For 12 consecutive years until the 2021 school year, the university held the top position in terms of the ratio of graduates securing jobs immediately after graduation.

In contrast to previous years, a notable number of graduates from Showa Women’s University’s Faculty of International Humanities have chosen to pursue overseas studies instead of immediately entering the job market. This shift in post-graduation plans has led to the university’s ranking dropping to the third position in terms of job placement ratio among women’s universities.

In comparison to the pre-COVID-19 period of 2019, international flight prices have risen by approximately 20 to 40 percent, as indicated by airline companies. Additionally, the yen has depreciated, with the current exchange rate at about 75 percent of its worth compared to four years ago when the rate was around 106 yen to the dollar in August 2019.

Ryugaku Journal, a magazine dedicated to studying abroad, also offers consultation services for individuals considering overseas education. Kyoko Ishizawa, responsible for public relations at the company, highlighted that although studying abroad has traditionally been costly, families continue to send their children even if expenses rise.

However, there is an emerging divide as students from families with limited financial resources are opting out of studying abroad, resulting in a noticeable polarization of opportunities.

Ishizawa also highlighted that some Japanese individuals are opting to utilize working holiday visas to capitalize on the favorable exchange rate and earn additional income abroad. This trend has given rise to the concept of “migrant study abroad,” where students venture overseas not solely for studying, but also to work and explore. Australia has emerged as a preferred destination for this form of holistic educational experience.

Nathan Yasis

Nathan Yasis

Nathan studied information technology and secondary education in college. He dabbled in and taught creative writing and research to high school students for three years before settling in as a digital journalist.

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Nathan Yasis

Nathan Yasis

Nathan studied information technology and secondary education in college. He dabbled in and taught creative writing and research to high school students for three years before settling in as a digital journalist.

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