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Public schools now top private university costs

Date Posted: 2005-11-19

Budget cuts and a tight economy are forcing public colleges and universities to raise their prices.
In a strange twist, potential students are now finding enrollment at a local public university more expensive than nearby private schools. Officials across Japan are scrambling to find funding for schools in the wake of the Trinity Reform Plan which put more of the financial burdens for public enterprise at the doorstep of individual prefectures.

A conference of Universities Union this week in Nagasaki Prefecture unveiled a somewhat frightening picture of public universities having to boost their prices to levels outscoring their private neighbors. Ryukyu University, already difficult to gain an entry seat to, jacked its entry cost Y15,000 over last year, to Y282,000. Tuition, which goes in addition to entry fees, is Y520,000 for one year.

Entry fees to a nearby private university are Y279,800, with tuition running Y817,000.

Officials say costs are changing because the baby boomer era is ended and fewer children are vying for the academic seats. Private universities are cutting their fees, but having to search for new money sources as donations dwindle in a tight economy.

Private universities tell students to brace for more difficult times ahead. A large, famous university says it now costs Y10,000,000 ($86,956) for one year, including tuition, fees, dormitory, food, insurance and miscellaneous fees. The Ministry of Finance says “we need to raise tuition fees.

Without doing so, we cannot make new facilities.” The Ministry of Education is opposed, saying “we cannot make the tuition and entry fees go up higher.”

Students, meanwhile, are having to get clever and creative to come up with money to attend school. The days of scholarships and grants from public sources are ended or very few, while the lagging business economy is causing many corporations to hold back on offering academic support.
Students are looking for operations or subsidy monies, but finding the market tight.

Prefectures say they can do little to help, because their budgets are tight. Students and their parents are asking now, “What can we do?”

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