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Data substantiates Japanese colleges’ pampering of students

  • October 29, 2014
  • , Asahi
  • Trending@Japan

We reported in April on a number of episodes pointing to Japanese universities’ tendency to cosset students. College administrators are afraid that without offering “generous” academic and living-related support amid the shrinking population of 18-year-olds, their schools may be criticized for being unaccommodating to students and hence applicants may lose interest in them. The results of a recent survey of all 745 colleges in Japan conducted by the Asahi Shimbun show that the country’s institutions of higher education have indeed become extremely “customer-oriented” apparently in a desperate attempt to attract high school students and reduce dropouts. According to Asahi (8/22), some 84% of the polled colleges said they collect detailed information on their students’ lives, such as their job-hunting activities, extracurricular activities, class enrollment/attendance rates, and how much time they spend studying. This information is reportedly used by college officials to give students relevant advice. Some schools even try to learn about students’ mental states by monitoring whether they sleep well or eat appropriately. Those who are found to be suffering from stress are referred to counselors and psychiatrists.

The daily took up a small women’s college in Gifu, highlighting its educators’ commitment to offering customized services for every student. At the school, students are given “one-on-one” lessons in which professors carefully review and correct their papers/essays, offering them follow-up lessons and checking up on those who skip class, just like middle school teachers do. One of the instructors said: “Our university’s strength is ‘tailor-made’ education.” One private college compiles a file of documents for each student to record his or her scholastic aptitude and personal lifestyle. In addition to recruiting more applicants, reducing dropouts is also an important factor in maintaining the financial health of universities. About 8% of university students quit before graduation each year, with dropout rates being higher for private institutions than public universities. One private university reportedly organizes “three-party consultations” involving a student, parent, and teacher so as to put together an individualized curriculum with the goal of improving the student’s academic performance. As a result, the dropout rate declined more than 10%. Another private institution sponsors gatherings for freshmen and instructors so that the new students won’t “feel lonely.”

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