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Japan: int’l students top 200K for first time

The number of international students in Japan topped 200,000 for the first time in 2015 as numbers climbed for a second year running. The latest figures from the Japan Overseas Study Services Organisation show strong signs of recovery for the country’s education sector after the 2011 earthquake.

Waseda University, a private institution in Tokyo, received the largest number of international students. Photo: Tidus Lin.

Higher education accounted for around three quarters of all foreign students studying in the country

The 13.3% increase in incoming international students brings the total number studying in the country in 2015 to 208,379.

The language travel industry saw the biggest proportional increase, reaching 56,317 due to a 25.2% boom in students coming to learn Japanese.

Higher education accounted for the majority of all foreign students studying in the country – around three quarters – up 9.3% on the previous year.

The language travel industry saw the biggest proportional increase due to a 25.2% boom in students coming to learn Japanese

Undergraduate courses accounted for the greatest number of all tertiary level students (67,472), returning to low-level growth after a slight decrease in 2014, followed by graduate schools with 41,398.

However, by far the biggest proportional increase in higher education was seen in the vocational sector, with enrolments on professional training courses up by almost a third for the second year running to 38,654.

University pathway courses, while accounting for only 2,607 students, also saw a sizeable increase in enrolments of 18.7%.

China remained the largest source of incoming students, but numbers are stagnating, with a 0.3% fall in 2015 to 94,111.

In contrast, incoming students from Vietnam continued to boom, up 47.1% to 12,443, along with Nepal, where a rise of 55.5% to 16,250 students made it Japan’s third largest source market, overtaking Korea (down 3.2%) for the first time.

Waseda University hosted the largest cohort of foreign students, 4,603, followed by the University of Tokyo which received 2,990 and the Japan University of Economics, with 2,835 students.

As part of its strategy to increase international students, boosted by a ¥7.7bn (US$72m) sector-wide government investment, Waseda aimed to increase its ratio of international students from 8% to 19% by doubling the courses it offers taught in a foreign language.

The growth in international students brings Japan closer to Prime Minister Abe’s Global 30 goal of attracting 300,000 international students to the country annually by 2020.

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