Japan Education Review and General information
When Japan opened herself to the world in 1968, one of the government's high priorities was catching up with Western standards in science and education. The Japanese education system was reformed mainly according to the German and French model which experts regarded as most suitable and advantageous.
After the Second World War, the Americans reformed the Japanese education system after their own that consists of six years of elementary school, each three years of junior and senior high school and four years of university or two years of junior college.
Compulsory education includes elementary school and junior high school. Over 90% of all students also graduate from high school and over 40% from university or junior college. At universities the percentage of male students is higher than that of female students while the opposite is the case at junior colleges. The number of graduate university students is relatively low.
The Japanese school year starts in April and consists of three terms, separated by short holidays in spring and winter, and a one month long summer break.
A characteristic of the Japanese school system are entrance exams, and with them a high competitiveness among students. Most high schools, universities, as well as a few private junior high schools and elementary schools require applicants to write entrance exams. In order to pass entrance exams to the best institutions, many students attend special preparation schools (juku) besides regular classes, or for one to two years between high school and university (yobiko).
The most prestigious universities are the national University of Tokyo and University of Kyoto, followed by the best private universities.
More than 100,000 international students are currently studying at university, junior colleges, professional schools and other educational institutions in Japan. Their number has been increasing rapidly since the 1980s, with two thirds of the students coming from China.
Short time studies at Japanese language schools are permitted on a tourist visa. All other foreign students in Japan need a student visa in order to study in Japan. Visa applicants require an educational institution as their sponsor in order to obtain a student visa.
Student visa holders are not allowed to engage in any paid activities, unless they get the permission of the school and the immigration office. Even then, students may work only a set maximum number of hours per week. Working on a tourist visa is prohibited.
Japanese language schools exist in many cities across Japan, ranging from informal conversation schools to government recognized institutions that offer preparatory courses for students to enroll at universities.
There are language schools for all proficiency levels, and courses of different durations from just a few weeks to more than one year.
The Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU) is a standard examination in existence since 2002, simplifying the process of admission to Japanese universities for international students.
The examination covers the Japanese language, science, mathematics, Japan and the World and is held biannually in Japan and selected cities outside of Japan. The examination can be written in Japanese or English (except the section on Japanese language; some testing sites don't offer tests in English).
Almost all national universities, about two thirds of the public universities and roughly half of the private universities use the EJU as admission criteria for international students, while the others apply their own entrance exams.
Naturally, most university courses in Japan are only available in Japanese, although quite a few universities offer one or more English courses at a master's and/or doctoral level. Only a handful of universities offer English courses on the undergraduate (bachelor) level.
Scholarships and Exchange Programs
Scholarship programs for international students are provided by the Japanese government, local governments, the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) and private organizations, foundations and companies in Japan and abroad. Likewise, there are various governmental bodies, organizations and educational institutions inside and outside of Japan that offer short term exchange programs for secondary and post secondary students to study in Japan and experience life in Japan