Japan is an island nation that sits in the Pacific Ocean on the east coast of Asia. It shares borders with several bodies of water including the Seas of Japan, Okhotsk and East China. Its closest neighbors are Taiwan, North and South Korea, China and Russia. It consists of four large islands and 6,852 (yes, 6,852!) total islands.
If you decide to pack your bags and study abroad in Japan with the 130 million locals of Japan, you’ll need to secure a passport, student visa and, if you decide to work, a work visa. Contact the Japanese consulate or embassy at least six months before you leave for Japan to make sure you have your documentation in order. Working or interning while you study abroad in Japan can allow you to collect Japanese Yen (the colorful currency of Japan) meet new people, and discover how video games, hybrid vehicles, and components of iPods are made.
Why Study Abroad in Japan
Studying abroad in Japan is a learning experience for any student; especially those studying science, technology, finance or industrial design are of interest to you. Japan is amongst the most technologically advanced in the world and its manufacturing of electronics, appliances and motor vehicles is quickly changing the world. It is home to companies like Nintendo and Toyota and is leading the world in scientific and technological research. Its stock exchange and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are amongst the most prestigious and aggressive in the world.
As a study abroad student in Japan, you will have the opportunity to learn or hone your Japanese language skills. Learn to use the Japanese Kanji (or Chinese character), two sets of Kana (simplified Chinese characters), the Latin alphabet and Arabic numerals. If learning Japanese doesn’t expose you to enough linguistic challenge, you can find your way to parts of rural Japan where languages like Ryukyuan and Ainu are spoken but quickly disappearing.
Higher education in Japan
Higher education in Japan is provided at universities (daigaku), junior colleges (tankidaigaku), colleges of technology (kotosenmongakko) and special training schools and community colleges (senshugakko). Of these four types of institutions, only universities and junior colleges are strictly considered postsecondary education providers.
As of 2010, more than 2.8 million students were enrolled in 778 universities. At the top of the higher education structure, these institutions provide a four-year training leading to a bachelor’s degree, and some offer six-year programs leading to a professional degree. There are two types of public four-year colleges: the 86 national universities (including the Open University of Japan) and the 95 local public universities, founded by prefectures and municipalities. The 597 remaining four-year colleges in 2010 were private. With a wealth of opportunities for students wishing to pursue tertiary education, the nation’s prestigious schools are the most appealing for students seeking to gain top employment prospects.
The overwhelming majority of college students attend full-time day programs. In 1990 the most popular courses, enrolling almost 40 percent of all undergraduate students, were in the social sciences, including business, law, and accounting. Other popular subjects were engineering (19 percent), the humanities (15 percent), and education (7 percent).
The average costs (tuition, fees, and living expenses) for a year of higher education in 1986 were ¥1.4 million. To help defray expenses, students frequently work part-time or borrow money through the government-supported Japan Scholarship Association. Assistance is also offered by local governments, nonprofit corporations, and other institutions.
According to the Times Higher Education Supplement and École des Mines de Paris, the top-ranking universities in Japan are the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University.
The QS Asia University Rankings Top 20 included the University of Tokyo at 5th position, Osaka University at 7th, Kyoto University at 8th, Tohoku University at 9th, Nagoya University at 10th, Tokyo Institute of Technology at 11th, Kyushu University at 17th and the University of Tsukuba at 20th.
Based on the 2011 Times Higher Education–QS World University Rankings, there are 33 Japanese universities in the top 100 Asian university rankings.