The education ministry has asked an advisory panel to study applications to establish 15 new universities in fiscal 2003, according to ministry officials.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry is expected to approve some universities in July and others in December, depending on the review process of the Council for University Chartering and School Juridical Person.

Among the 15, there is only one application for a public university, the officials said, a prefectural health and welfare university in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Fourteen others are applications for private universities, including a health and science university in Yamanashi Prefecture and the Nagahama Institute of Bio-Science and Technology in Shiga Prefecture.

The ministry also called on the panel to study 62 applications for establishing new faculties at existing universities and others.

Due to the declining birthrate, the number of applications for new universities and faculties has fallen after hitting a peak of 110 in fiscal 2000.

Still, there are many applications to establish new faculties in the fields of nursing care and social welfare in the current fiscal year, the officials said.

Shujitsu Women’s University in Okayama Prefecture and the Kyushu University of Health and Welfare in Miyazaki Prefecture filed applications to establish pharmaceutical departments, the first since 1983, according to the officials.

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