Land of ris­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties

With the Ja­panese yen weaker than ear­lier, study­ing in Ja­pan is prov­ing to be more af­ford­able as com­pared to the US or UK

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - Gauri Kohli

Ja­pan’s rich cul­tural her­itage and old­fash­ioned ru­ral set-up is quite a con­trast to its mod­ern Shinkansen (high speed bul­let trains), ex­pen­sive cities, and the tech­nol­ogy edge it has over many other coun­tries. This para­dox is quite in­ter­est­ing to ex­plore for stu­dents go­ing to the Land of the Ris­ing Sun to pur­sue higher ed­u­ca­tion.

Be­ing a leader in man­u­fac­tur­ing, tele­com, busi­ness man­age­ment and en­gi­neer­ing, it is a pre­ferred choice for many over­seas stu­dents. Ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey con­ducted by the govern­ment’s Ja­pan Stu­dent Ser­vices Or­gan­i­sa­tion, in 2009, 53.1% for­eign stu­dents were in­ter­ested in Ja­panese so­ci­ety and wanted to live in Ja­pan, 46.4% wanted to learn Ja­panese and Ja­panese cul­ture, and 33.2% felt that ed­u­ca­tion and re­search op­por­tu­ni­ties in Ja­panese uni­ver­si­ties were at­trac­tive. “Based on my per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence of in­ter­view­ing hun­dreds of In­dian stu­dents who want to study in Ja­pan, I have no­ticed that they usu­ally men­tion ei­ther one or a com­bi­na­tion of the fol­low­ing three rea­sons: tech­nol­ogy hub, a unique cul­ture (in which tra­di­tion and state-of-the-art tech­nol­ogy co-ex­ist), job op­por­tu­ni­ties (of work­ing for world-class Ja­panese com­pa­nies),” says Eda Kei, first sec­re­tary, Em­bassy of Ja­pan.

Un­til May 2012, 541 In­dian stu­dents were study­ing in Ja­pan (both un­der­grad­u­ate and post­grad­u­ate pro­grammes) and the num­bers have gone up since then. As far as the aca­demic struc­ture of the uni­ver­si­ties there is con­cerned, it is uni­fied, says Kei.

A bach­e­lor’s course takes four years, a mas­ter’s is for two years and a PhD takes three years. The medium of teach­ing is the Ja­panese lan­guage in Ja­panese uni­ver­si­ties. How­ever, English is also widely used in nat­u­ral science and en­gi­neer­ing fields. “Re­cently, the num­ber of post­grad­u­ate cour­ses in which only English is used as a medium of teach­ing has in­creased. Global 30 uni­ver­si­ties and some other uni­ver­si­ties pro­vide un­der­grad­u­ate cour­ses in which all classes are con­ducted in English,” adds Kei.

The rank­ing of the Ja­panese uni­ver­si­ties is rel­a­tively higher in the Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion World Rep­u­ta­tion Rank­ings. As per the QS World Univer­sity Rank­ing 2012-2013, ten uni­ver­si­ties were ranked in the top 200 with the Univer­sity of Tokyo, Ky­oto Univer­sity and Osaka Univer­sity be­ing ranked in the top 50. Oth­ers in­clude Tokyo In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (65), To­hoku Univer­sity (75), Nagoya Univer­sity (86), Kyushu Univer­sity (128), Hokkaido Univer­sity (138), Waseda Univer­sity (198) and Keio Univer­sity (200).

The Univer­sity of Tokyo and Ky­oto Univer­sity are ranked high even in the Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion World Univer­sity Rank­ings 2012-2013 at 27 and 54, re­spec­tively. Tokyo In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, To­hoku Univer­sity and Osaka Univer­sity also fea­ture in the top 150. In the World Rep­u­ta­tion Rank­ings too, Tokyo and Ky­oto emerge as the high­est ranked Ja­panese in­sti­tu­tions at nine and 23, re­spec­tively.

“Since the Ja­panese yen (JPY) is rel­a­tively weaker, study­ing in Ja­pan seems to be an af­ford­able op­tion when com­pared to the US and UK,” says Kei.

In­dian stu­dents who are head­ing to the coun­try for higher stud­ies are up­beat too. “I am go­ing on a schol­ar­ship for a course in Ja­panese Stud­ies from Nagoya Univer­sity. It is a great op­por­tu­nity as I am study­ing Ja­panese at Jawa­har­lal Nehru Univer­sity and my stint in Ja­pan will only boost my skills and give me more ex­po­sure to the Ja­panese cul­ture and peo­ple,” says Sri­jeeta Sarkar, a stu­dent.

Kavita Sharma, who got the em­bassy rec­om­men­da­tion to pur­sue re­search stud­ies at Chiba Univer­sity, says, “I am ex­cited to go to Ja­pan as I will get a chance to be closer to their cul­ture. I want to be­come a pro­fes­sor in Ja­panese and have done my mas­ter’s in Ja­panese lan­guage from Delhi Univer­sity. To learn a coun­try’s lan­guage on its soil is go­ing to be a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Av­inash Kumar Garg, who has been se­lected for the Young Lead­ers Pro­gramme, is thrilled with the op­por­tu­nity. “I worked as a phar­ma­cist in Chandi­garh in the R&D di­vi­sion of Ran­baxy. I ap­plied for the pro­gramme and got se­lected. Those se­lected in­clude peo­ple from di­verse fields. I chose Ja­pan be­cause it is the best when it comes to en­gi­neer­ing and man­age­ment. I will be get­ting 2.4 lakh JPY per month as part of the pro­gramme,” he says.

Aca­demi­cians in Ja­pan are quite forth­com­ing when it comes to In­dian stu­dents. “Rit­sumeikan Asia Pa­cific Univer­sity has a good num­ber of In­dian stu­dents as well, and the place­ment rate for In­dian stu­dents is al­most 100%. We are get­ting 13 In­dian stu­dents to Rit­sumeikan Asia Pa­cific Univer­sity and one stu­dent to Rit­sumeikan Univer­sity this month. We al­ready have about 20 In­dian stu­dents study­ing in th­ese uni­ver­si­ties. Among stu­dents who got ad­mis­sion this au­tumn, five In­dian stu­dents have been awarded a 100% tuition waiver,” says Satoshi Hata, gen­eral man­ager, Rit­sumeikan In­dia Of­fice.

The univer­sity’s In­dia of­fice is part of the Global-30 Pro­ject, an ini­tia­tive of the Ja­panese govern­ment to glob­alise higher ed­u­ca­tion. The pro­ject at­tempts to in­vite 300,000 for­eign stu­dents to Ja­pan. Thir­teen var­si­ties have been se­lected by the Ja­panese govern­ment un­der this pro­ject.

THINKSTOCK

Asian stu­dents in­ter­act with Ja­panese stu­dents at Rit­sumeikan Univer­sity

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