While sushi, karaoke and bullet trains may be among the first things that come to mind when you think about Japan, there’s a long list of other reasons why this culturally rich and technologically advanced nation is a desirable destination for international students. Read on to learn five reasons why studying in Japan offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students from around the globe.
You will be part of world-class education.
The cutting edge innovation for which Japan is known didn’t happen spontaneously. A formidable higher educational system with a commitment to research and development stands behind it. Need more proof? Japan boasts Asia’s highest number of Nobel prize winners thanks to to its extraordinary academic tradition.
Earlier this year, Japan fended off challenges from rising higher education powers to hold onto 20 of the top 100 spots — with ultimate #1 bragging rights going to the University of Tokyo — in Times Higher Education’s Asian University Rankings. With measures based on everything from teaching and research to knowledge transfer and international outlook, Japan’s dominance as a higher education power is well-known.
You will feel welcomed and desired by schools and universities.
Japan is increasingly prioritizing education as a means of fostering economic growth, and internationalization leads the charge among higher education reforms.
As of May 2012, there were just under 140,000 international students in Japan, and that number is expected to skyrocket over the next 16 years due to the Global 30 initiative. This pledge by a collective of Japanese national universities seeks to attract 300,000 students from all over the world to study in Japan by the year 2020 — a number which will ultimately account for 10 percent of the country’s entire student body.
To that end, universities are pulling out all the stops for international students, beginning with a simplified application process, continuing throughout the study experience and culminating with help on the job trail. Other measures designed to attract global talent include letting students start in September — as opposed to during Japan’s traditional academic starting month of April; allowing more coursework to be taught in English; recruiting global teaching staff; and encouraging both inbound and outbound international exchange programs.
You will be truly valuable on the job market.
But international students aren’t just sought after in the classroom. A recent New York Times article discussed a new push by Japanese companies to recruit international talent for a more global business representation. Just how sought after are non-Japanese college graduates? In a survey of more than 800 Japanese companies, nearly 50 percent of them plan to recruit from a non-Japanese pool of college grads. Many even have a 10 percent quota.
While non-Japanese workers are at a premium in Japan due to the drive for a more diverse, global workforce, foreign candidates must still undergo the rigorous Japanese job search process, along with the etiquette that goes along with it. Studying abroad offers valuable experience with the customs and behaviors that open doors.
You can both study and save money.
While it’s true that Japan is an expensive place to live, there are plenty of ways to enjoy a good education at a reasonable price. While living costs may be high, tuition fees are comparatively cheap — particularly up against those in the United States and the United Kingdom. Furthermore, a tuition fee exemption program for foreign students goes a long way in cushioning the financial blow, as do a multitude of scholarship opportunities from the government, private universities, foundations and corporations designed to support international students of all levels and across all academic disciplines.
You will live amazing cultural experiences.
If you’re hoping for a glimpse into a fascinating and completely different way of life, look no further than Japan. After all, how many other countries can lay claim to being the birthplace of both Pikachu and haiku? Japanese culture intriguingly merges contrasting elements for a harmonious society in which the old and the new seamlessly blend together. From customary to cutting edge, students gain exposure to 2,000 years worth of culture and history in one remarkable place.
Japan is home to some of the world’s most breathtaking natural terrain — four seasons out of the year. Haiku verse sprung forth from the nation’s stunning seasons, and endures today as a testament to the land’s diverse and extraordinary beauty. And speaking of diverse and extraordinary, no discussion of Japan is complete without mention of its cuisine. From sushi and sashimi to ramen and soba, life in Japan offers an epicurean adventure like no other.
Wherever your ventures take you in Japan, you can do so with the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re in one of the world’s safest countries. From low crime rates to extraordinary public transportation to advanced medical technology, Japan has turned convenience into an art form.
If you’re like thousands of other students from all around the world, these reasons — and maybe a few of your own — may have led you to seriously consider studying in Japan. While this is an exciting time, it can also be overwhelming. The Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) is an amazingresource — you can even download a mobile app just for international students planning to study in Japan! — for helping you turn your study abroad dreams into a reality. In doing so, you’ll gain access to a unique higher education opportunity steeped in a dynamic fusion of generations-old wisdom and the relentless pursuit of knowledge and progress.