Over 100 universities in Japan were implementing or considering measures to financially help students as of Thursday amid the coronavirus crisis, a survey by Jiji Press has found.
A wide range of measures are being taken or studied, such as returning a portion of students’ tuition fees and providing cash for buying equipment needed for online lessons or paying living expenses.
Still, some have called for support from the government, saying that there are limits to what universities can do with their own funds.
Some 70 universities have granted or plan to grant uniform amounts of cash to all of their students to help them attend online lectures, including for purchases of personal computers or tablet devices and internet access.
Dokkyo University is set to provide ¥100,000 each to its roughly 8,600 students to cover the costs of attending online lessons, which start in May. A survey by the university had found that about 40 percent of its students are not well prepared for online lessons.
Many other universities will pay ¥10,000 to ¥50,000 to each student.
Hiroshima University has already started to provide ¥30,000 each to students in need, after receiving about 60 applications by April 28. “We want them to secure food for the time being,” an official of the university said. The university is using its own funds to cover part of the costs while seeking donations to make up the shortfall.
Kyoto University of the Arts has decided to return to students about 80 percent of fees for using its facilities for April and May.
“The coronavirus crisis is starting to affect students engaged in creative activities at the university, and there are limits to what we can offer with online lessons alone,” an official of the university said.
Waseda University will offer ¥100,000 to students struggling to pay living expenses. Keio University will grant ¥15,000 to students who cannot afford to buy equipment for online lessons.
Meanwhile, the number of universities that have cut tuition fees is limited. “We are working on preparing an environment for online lectures, and part of tuition fees collected from students is being used to cover the costs,” an official of Shibaura Institute of Technology explained. The college has decided to provide ¥60,000 each to all students.
“Especially at private universities, tuition fees account for a large share of revenue,” J. F. Oberlin University professor Masayuki Kobayashi said, noting that there would be gaps in support measures taken by universities that are relatively rich and institutions that are not.
He stressed the importance of the government financially aiding universities to help them better support students.
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