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July 26, 2004

Student Shortage Coming Sooner Than Expected

Japan's universities and colleges are facing a student shortage crisis earlier than previously expected. According to a report submitted last Friday to the Central Council of Education, the number of places available is expected to equal or exceed the number of applicants from 2007, two years earlier than the eduction ministry previously predicted. While this could in theory lead to 100% student placement, the draw of popular and prestigious institutions and competition among the private sector will likely mean a growing financial crisis for less popular schools.

Ministry predictions in 1997 assumed an increase in the percentage of secondary students going on to third level study would partially offset the decling birthrate and lead to a parity of places and applicants at 707,000 in 2009. But the the number of high school students going to tertiary education peaked at 49.1% at the end of the last decade rather than increasing to the 60% expected by 2006.

In the 2003 school year, 718,000 of 854,000 applicants for universities and colleges were accepted. Based on the latest figures, the ministry estimates that 699,000 students (57.5% of high school graduates and about 45,000 students reapplying after failing in previous years) would seek to enter higher education in 2007, about the same number of places available.

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