Only 20% of Japanese public high schools have foreign student quotas

Challenges cited by schools include difficulties in offering Japanese lessons tailored to students with varying levels of proficiency and the availability of interpreters for different foreign languages.

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Only 20 percent of public high schools in Japan have quotas for accepting foreign students in their entrance exams for the upcoming academic year starting April.

The figure comes despite the government’s efforts to encourage the implementation of special entry frameworks in schools across the country, according to a recent survey conducted by Kyodo News via Japan Times.

Out of 3,880 public high schools surveyed, including evening schools, approximately 750 had quotas for foreign resident students who passed special admission exams. 

Language support

However, the majority of schools lacking such quotas expressed concerns about their ability to provide adequate Japanese-language instruction to these students upon enrollment.

Challenges cited by schools include difficulties in offering Japanese lessons tailored to students with varying levels of proficiency and the availability of interpreters for different foreign languages.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has been urging education boards in each prefecture to ensure that public high schools are open to accepting foreign nationals. 

This push underscores the importance of upper secondary schooling in facilitating future work opportunities for these students.

As compulsory education in Japan ends after junior high school, entrance examinations for high schools or vocational schools become crucial for further education and career prospects.

Statistics from the ministry revealed that the number of foreign students in elementary, junior high, and high schools requiring Japanese-language instruction has increased significantly, reaching over 47,000 in fiscal 2021, marking a 1.8-fold increase since fiscal 2012.

However, despite the growing numbers, the transition to high school appears to be more challenging for foreign students compared to their Japanese counterparts. 

While 89.9 percent of foreign students requiring Japanese-language lessons entered high schools in fiscal 2021, the figure falls short of the 99.2 percent enrollment rate for overall junior high school students in the same year.

Higher dropout rates

Moreover, dropout rates among foreign students in high schools are notably higher, standing at 5.5 percent compared to 1 percent for high school students overall, according to ministry data.

In Ibaraki Prefecture, Ishigeshiho High School currently hosts around 100 foreign students from 15 different countries. 

The school provides two hours of Japanese-language lessons per week for students in need, although teachers acknowledge the challenges in fully supporting all foreign students and emphasize the importance of diligent study for future opportunities.

While private high schools or international schools are options for foreign resident students, they often come with hefty costs or are located far from their residences.

Miho Yoshida, a professor at Hirosaki University’s Graduate School of Education specializing in the sociology of education, highlighted the necessity for support measures post-enrollment in high school for foreign students, citing the challenges they face in finding employment with only a junior high school education in Japan.

500,000 students abroad by 2033

Japan has recently unveiled an ambitious plan to send 500,000 students abroad by 2033, per the Japan Times.

The strategy includes expanding scholarships and increasing loan repayment assistance for Japanese students studying overseas, with the goal of attracting 400,000 foreign students annually by 2033—double the current range of 200,000 to 300,000.

Japan intends to develop a roadmap this summer, highlighting the transformative potential of studying abroad. 

Targets include sending 150,000 students abroad to pursue degrees, facilitating shorter study visits for 230,000 students enrolled in Japanese universities, and organizing overseas study tours for 110,000 high schoolers.

The government plans to provide financial aid, grant-type scholarships, and online international exchange platforms for junior and high school students. 

Japanese universities will have more flexibility to adjust tuition rates and manage enrollment capacities to attract a diverse pool of international students. Moreover, companies are encouraged to expand hiring schedules, while a certification scheme for high-quality vocational schools will extend benefits to foreign students, aligning them with those of university graduates to encourage them to remain in Japan.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized the importance of nurturing the growth and success of young individuals through overseas education experiences as key to societal transformation.

In 2021, Japan experienced a 13.2 percent decline in international student enrollment, falling from 279,597 to 242,444 students, based on data published by Erudera. 

The majority of these students were either enrolled in Social Sciences programs or pursuing undergraduate studies or colleges of technology. The Kanto region boasted the highest concentration of international students, with 122,383 students, and China emerged as the largest contributor with a total of 114,255 students.

Findings from an annual survey conducted by the Japan Student Services Organization indicated that self-funding was the primary source of financial support for the majority of students, totaling 231,077.

Jaleen Ramos

Jaleen Ramos

Jaleen Ramos has been a professional journalist for five years now. She has contributed and covered stories for premier Philippine dailies and publications, and has traveled to different parts of the country to capture and tell the most significant stories happening.

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Jaleen Ramos

Jaleen Ramos

Jaleen Ramos has been a professional journalist for five years now. She has contributed and covered stories for premier Philippine dailies and publications, and has traveled to different parts of the country to capture and tell the most significant stories happening.

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