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Japan considering post-study retention initiatives

The Japanese government is considering a range of measures to help international students to stay in the country and work as it pursues a 50 per cent employment rate target of overseas graduates.

The government announced the goal, an increase compared with the current employment ratio of around 30 per cent, last summer as the latest stage in its 'Japan Revitalization Strategy'. A record 15,657 students took up employment in Japan immediately after graduation in 2015, according to Ministry of Justice statistics released in November.

 

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) is now planning frameworks in 30 regions to assist with the retention of international students.

 

Under the plans indicated to the local press, universities will establish support offices for post-study work in collaboration with local companies and municipalities.

 

Universities will also provide Japanese lessons from the first year of study so that overseas students have a workable command of business-level Japanese, while lectures on Japan's corporate culture and month-long internship programmes will also be provided.

 

MEXT has also indicated that it is working with the Ministry of Justice to simplify the procedures for switching from student visas to work visas.

 

According to a survey of international students enrolled at Japanese universities conducted by the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) last year, 69.9 per cent of respondents said they wanted to stay and seek employment.

 

In recent years, Japan has introduced a range of measures to attract and retain international students, including more generous part-time work rights during studies.

 

JASSO reported a record peak of international students enrolled in 2015, including 152,062 at university level, although the figure remains well short of the government's stated target of 300,000 students by 2020. There were sizeable increases from several Asian source countries, including Vietnam, Nepal and Taiwan.

 

A special StudyTravel Magazine Tertiary Focus feature on Japanese universities in April last year reported that institutions were increasingly considering the usage of agents to recruit international students, and Japanese agency association JAOS has held seminars with universities to introduce the benefits of working with agents.

 

 

By Matthew Knott

News Editor