National

Universities in Japan try to soften blow from pandemic with internet subsidies, scholarships and tuition cuts

KYODO

Universities are set to subsidize online classes amid the nationwide state of emergency called over the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo said it will disburse ¥50,000 to each of its 12,000 students to help them purchase adequate internet connections and computer gear as the school gears up for a switch to distance learning for the spring semester, which began on Monday.

Kanagawa University in Yokohama said it is providing the same stipend to its 18,000 students in preparation for conducting online classes from May 11.

Shibaura Institute of Technology in Tokyo and Tokai University in Kanagawa Prefecture both announced similar subsidies. Tokai said it will give up to ¥10,000 to each of its nearly 30,000 students based on their individual needs to help defray the cost of internet access and computer gear.

Classes for the spring semester, which were delayed until May, will mainly be conducted remotely.

Shibaura said it will reduce tuition for all of students in the second half of the school year by ¥60,000, an amount the university regards as internet-related aid for the first half that began in April.

Tokai and Meiji Gakuin said they extended the deadline for tuition and other fees to late May to ease the financial burden on students stemming from the pandemic.

Meiji Gakuin, however, said it is not considering refunding or reducing tuition or other fees. It vowed to “provide the same high level of education as in normal years, even though part of it has to be done through online teaching.”

The university plans to offer special scholarships to students whose families are experiencing acute economic hardship from the pandemic, such as loss of earnings and sudden unemployment.

Other universities — including Tohoku University, Hiroshima University and Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology — said they will extend emergency assistance to students in need, such as those unable to pay rent or buy daily necessities.

Tohoku University in Sendai unveiled ¥400 million in emergency assistance for students that includes support for distance learning, part-time jobs for about 2,500 students and scholarships for those in need of livelihood support.

Hiroshima University said it will provide emergency scholarships of ¥30,000 a month for students in urgent need.

“I am very concerned about and my heart bleeds for those students who may have suddenly found themselves in great financial difficulties and cannot properly feed their mouths as a result of losing their part-time jobs,” Hiroshima University President Mitsuo Ochi said in a statement.

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