70% of foreign students shun offers from University of Tokyo degree programs in English


Nearly 70 percent of foreign students accepted by the University of Tokyo for undergraduate degrees taught in English declined admission for the 2014 school year, data from the university shows.

In every case those who spurned acceptance to the two programs, on Japan studies and environmental sciences, starting in October and each limited to a maximum 15 students, decided to seek admission to prestigious universities outside of Japan, the data showed Saturday.

Foreign students appear to prefer other colleges overseas because the University of Tokyo, known locally as Todai, offers a limited number of classes taught in English.

The results are a setback for Japan’s efforts to attract a bigger share of foreign students to boost the international stature of its leading universities, and indicate more work will be needed for Japanese colleges to compete with foreign rivals such as the University of Oxford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The University of Tokyo launched its Programs in English at its Komaba campus in 2012, and has increased the number of students it accepts from 38 to 49, and then to 61 over the three academic years.

Yet the number of students entering the programs has steadily dropped, from 27 in 2012 to 23 in 2013, and to 20 in 2014, according to the data.

Meanwhile, the percentage of foreign students who declined offers to attend other universities has steadily increased, from 29 percent in 2012 to 53.1 percent in 2013, and to 67.2 percent in 2014.

University of Tokyo Executive Vice President Toshikazu Hasegawa denied the Komaba English programs have failed to meet enrollment quotas, calling them only “a target.”

“We haven’t seen the quality of foreign students deteriorating,” Hasegawa said.

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