Ministry plans to reject requests to expand enrollment at private universities in Tokyo from 2018

JIJI

The education ministry has decided not to let enrollment rise at private universities based in Tokyo’s densely populated 23 wards, in principle, starting from next April, informed sources said.

It will shortly present the details of the regulatory change in a draft revision to a ministry notice regarding the establishment of universities, and solicit comments from the public.

The move is aimed at rectifying the concentration of young people in the capital.

According to sources familiar with the ministry’s thinking, the draft revision will state clearly that no increase in private universities’ enrollment capacities will be permitted in the 23 wards.

Universities that have already made formal decisions to raise enrollment limits and begun preparations for expansion, including land purchases, will be treated as an exception, the sources said.

If a university hopes to set up a new faculty, it is expected to lower enrollment limits at existing faculties to balance the number of students in the new one to keep the total number of students enrolled at the school unchanged.

A panel appointed by the government came up with an interim report in May, saying that no increase in enrollment quotas should be allowed at private universities in the 23 wards. This would be enforced by manipulating government subsidies.

A package of basic policies for regional revitalization adopted by the Cabinet the following month included a new policy to reject requests to expand enrollment capacities from those universities.

The government is looking at legislation to regulate university enrollment limits and hopes to draw up a specific system by the end of the year. In the meantime, the education ministry plans to deal with the issue by revising a related notice, the sources said.

Every March and June, the education ministry accepts applications from private universities to change their admission capacities.

In line with government policy, the ministry has revised a related ordinance to extend the period for June’s applications to October for universities seeking to raise enrollment limits for fiscal 2018, to allow time to discuss responses to such requests.

Given the planned revision to the ministry notice, private universities in central Tokyo are expected to be banned in principle from applying for higher limits.