There is a small group of female TV personalities whose claim to fame is that they graduated from the University of Tokyo, the most prestigious institute of higher learning in Japan. Like most TV personalities, these women have no demonstrable talent, and in almost every case when they appear on variety and talk shows they never discuss what they studied. They often show up on quiz shows where they can either confirm expectations about their intelligence or delight viewers by revealing they don't know as much as they should, but overall there really isn't any discernible difference between them and other entertainers peddled by production companies.

What is it that makes these women interesting? The answer is that they represent a rare species. Not many women attend the University of Tokyo, colloquially known as Todai. Less than 20 percent of its undergraduates are female and now, it appears, the school itself is wondering if it shouldn't do more to raise that rate.

Starting this spring, Todai will offer housing subsidies of ¥30,000 a month to selected female students who would normally have to commute more than 90 minutes one-way to the Komaba campus in Meguro Ward. The subsidy would be available to some 100 students per year for no more than two years and regardless of their parents' income.