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June 23, 2003

3rd-Level Fee Hike Expected

Among the effects of next year's proposed changes to the national university system may be higher tuition fees. A Kyodo News survey showed that roughly half of the 92 school presidents who responded predict such a rise, though only one confirmed that an increase was already being considered. Currently, students attending state-run universities pay a uniform annual tuition of ¥520,000. The plan is set to go into effect next year if, as expected, it passes the House of Councillors. The 97 third-level institutions will become independent entities and some 120,000 faculty members will no longer be classified as civil servants. The reforms are part of an effort to make schools more competitive and integrated with business. Each university must produce a medium-term plan and a government panel will periodically evaluate the institution. The evaluation will affect the amount of subsidies each university receives from the state. Just over half of the pollees said that the timing of the change is right, but 75% are worried about whether the education ministry is capable of fairly evaluating each university's education program.

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