• Kyodo

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New enrollments at 46.4%, or 277, of four-year private Japanese universities in spring 2021 were less than the number of places offered, up 15.4 percentage points from the previous fiscal year, a survey by a mutual private school organization showed Tuesday.

A decrease of around 26,000 in the 18-year-old population, as well as the number of international students due to the coronavirus pandemic, are believed to be factors in the low enrollments, the Promotion and Mutual Aid Corporation for Private Schools of Japan said.

The survey found that the fill rate of places available at overall private universities dropped by 2.8 percentage points to 99.8%, falling below 100% for the first time since the survey began in fiscal 1999.

The number of private universities with fewer admissions than places had been declining for the past four fiscal years. While the overall number of places increased by about 4,000 this fiscal year, total new enrollments fell by about 9,600.

The study compiled data as of May 1 from 597 universities nationwide, excluding those not accepting new students. While those offering 3,000 or more places were 99.9% filled, representing little change from the previous year, those accepting between 300 and 400 students were only 95.2% filled, a drop of around 9.2 percentage points.

By region, the fill rate in the three major metropolitan areas of greater Tokyo, greater Osaka, and Aichi Prefecture was 100.6%, while the rate in other regions fell sharply by 6.2 percentage points to 97.3%.

The fall in entrants outside the metropolitan areas has been attributed to the declining birthrate in less densely populated regions and expanded financial support by the education ministry, which has made it easier for students from poorer families to live in cities.

Among 286 private junior colleges surveyed, 83.6% had fewer enrollments than places offered, an increase of 9.7 percentage points, while the overall fill rate among the two-year colleges stood at 82.6%.

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