Island nations often retain a unique and occasionally peculiar culture. Cut off slightly from the mainland, living in an island nation will cause you to experience sights, sounds and smells that really cannot be imagined anywhere else. And Japan may just be the king of unique island nations. Read on to find out why studying in Japan offers a fascinating and individual experience for international students.
The quality of education is exceptional
Japan has one of the best education systems in the world. There’s no two ways about it. A commitment to research and development, combined with a hunger to be the most forward-thinking and innovative country in the world has led Japanese institutions to produce 25 Nobel Prize winners, 22 of whom arrive from physics, chemistry or medicine.
The cutting edge innovation for which Japan is known didn't happen spontaneously. Japan has long prioritised education as a means of fostering economic growth and it has worked, making Japan one of the strongest nations both financially and educationally.
Japan currently has two universities in the top 50 institutions on the planet, according to QS Quacquarelli Symonds: Kyoto University and the University of Tokyo. Tokyo has also recently been named the third best city in the world for students by The Telegraph.
These results make Japan the best country in Asia for education, with 20 of the top 100 spots in Times Higher Education’s Asian University Rankings (number one was the University of Tokyo). From teaching and research to knowledge transfer and international outlook, Japan is truly dominant when it comes to imparting knowledge.
There’s also masses of variety. With approximately 780 universities, tonnes of junior colleges and too many vocational schools to count, you will certainly to be able to find an institution that provides your particular area of interest.
The international student experience is second to none
As of May 2015, there were around 210,000 international students in Japan, and that number is expected to increase over the next few years due to the Global 30 initiative. This pledge by a collective of Japanese national universities seeks to attract 300,000 students from all over the world to study in Japan by the year 2020 -- a number which will ultimately account for 10 percent of the country’s entire student body.
To that end, universities are pulling out all the stops for international students, beginning with a simplified application process, continuing throughout the study experience and culminating with help on the job trail. Other measures designed to attract global talent include letting students start in September -- as opposed to during Japan’s traditional academic starting month of April; allowing more coursework to be taught in English; recruiting global teaching staff; and encouraging both inbound and outbound international exchange programs. Students are also, vitally, allowed and encouraged to work while studying which is absolutely necessary for lots of travelling students.
It can be quite cheap too! One year of tuition at a Japanese school or university costs, on average, about $6,000USD. That’s half or even a third of what equivalent studies in the US or the UK would cost. Likewise, the cost of living is far lower in Japan.
Furthermore, a tuition fee exemption program for foreign students goes a long way in cushioning the financial blow, as do a number of scholarship opportunities from the government, private universities, foundations and corporations designed to support international students of all levels and across all academic disciplines. Whether or not you get a scholarship, studying in Japan is exceptional value for money, allowing you more freedom to explore the country’s delights.
It's an incredibly well run country
Japan is the third strongest economy in the world and life is very comfortable there as a consequence. It’s incredibly safe and clean. Their health system is cheap and efficient. Public transportation is reliable. Locals are known to be very welcoming, respectful and polite. Japan boasts some of the most spectacular natural views in the world. Food is very healthy. Unemployment is low. In short: it’s safe, clean and the people are happy. What more could you ask for?
Very fluid job market with lots of opportunities
Studying in another country will always greatly improve your employability, but studying in Japan is particularly valuable. Whether you decide to stay there, move back home or go somewhere else entirely, you will be greatly viewed as a consequence of your bravery and newfound skills.
Since Japan has such a powerful economy, companies abroad look to the Japanese market with interest and will therefore hire people with an international profile.
There are also fantastic work skills to be gained in Japan. When applying for a job, foreign candidates must undergo the rigorous Japanese job search process, along with the etiquette that goes along with it. Students will also learn some of these skills while at school. These experiences offer valuable experience with customs and behaviours that open doors in the world at large.
A recent New York Times article discussed a new push by Japanese companies to recruit international talent for a more globally represented business. Just how sought after are non-Japanese college graduates? In a survey of more than 800 Japanese companies, nearly 50 percent of them plan to recruit from a non-Japanese pool of college grads. Many even have a 10 percent quota.
It is also worth noting that international students are also allowed to work up to 28 hours a week in Japan while studying, a potential lifeline if you need some extra cash for your day to day life.
There is something uniquely attractive about Japanese culture that interests people from around the world. It ranges from the simple, elegant and beautiful to the wild, loud and wacky, with everything in between.
There are moments of utter relaxation and contemplation visiting temples and drinking tea, thrilling madness at places such as the Robot Restaurant in Tokyo, and then of course there’s anime, manga and video games to immerse yourself in and of course lots of sushi and ramen to be had, and then there’s all the temples to visit, sumo to watch, art to visit, mountains to climb… The list is virtually endless.
Tokyo especially is full of the leaders of gourmet, fashion, art, and subculture, so if you study there you can experience the very best that these worlds have to offer. On top of it being a city full of leading businesses, it’s also full of nature such as Yoyogi Park, historical sites such as temples and shrines, as well as sightseeing spots like Skytree and Tokyo Tower.
One of the best parts about studying abroad is also the freedom you have to travel. In Japan, this is a particular delight with its efficient high speed trains. They (and other modes of transportation) give you the opportunity to experience all the delicious food, people and art that Japan has to offer.
What more is there to say?
It occasionally feels silly encouraging readers to go to Japan as it a country of such joy that it really speaks for itself. A landscape of great natural beauty, some of the politest people in the world and excellent (and affordable) education means that Japan should be at the forefront of every prospective international student’s mind.