• Kyodo

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The proportion of Japanese university students who are not finding their lives fulfilling amid the coronavirus pandemic stood at 44.7% in July, with many saying they feel down, have monetary hardships and face limitations of online classes, according to a survey.

The ratio of students reporting unfulfilled lives amid fewer opportunities to connect with each other due to the pandemic rose nearly 20 percentage points from the fall of 2020, according to the online survey by the National Federation of University Co-operative Associations.

In a question allowing multiple answers about what they were worried about, 66.7% said they “feel concerned about the future,” followed by 45.3% saying they “are lethargic and have no motivation.”

The survey was conducted between July 5 and 19, drawing responses from 7,637 students at 245 universities in the country.

Students also suffered on the financial front, as 19.6% said their income from part-time jobs has decreased as work shifts have been slashed under a state of emergency or quasi-emergency over the virus, which put restrictions on business activities.

Some students said they could not even find any part-time work.

Under the state of emergency, restaurants and bars serving alcohol or offering karaoke are asked to shut, while those not serving liquor are requested to close at 8 p.m. A quasi-state of emergency carries fewer restrictions on business activities.

The survey also noted an increase in the number of students whose monthly income from part-time jobs was less than ¥30,000 ($273), compared to data from the previous two years.

Asked about recent health concerns, 44.6% said they “feel no drive,” 38.5% reported “eye fatigue” and 37.6% said they were “feeling stressed.”

As for measures that students expect the universities to implement to improve the current situation, over 50% of both first- and second-year students said efforts should be made to create opportunities on campus that allow them to connect.

Meanwhile, over 26% of both second- and third-year students, and 30.6% of college seniors, sought increased financial assistance, such as scholarships.

On online classes, 57.8% said they found it difficult to concentrate compared to face-to-face classes, while 47.8% said they are not aware of the progress of fellow students in their studies, and 47.3% cited a large number of assignments.

“Students are being forced to be alone due to social restrictions on their activities,” said an official of the federation. “It is important for universities and the society to help students build human connections.”

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