According to a National Institute of Science and Technology Policy (NISTEP) survey, 21.2% of graduate students received a tuition waiver while enrolled. However, this rate was much higher for international students at 62.5%. It also found that most tuition waivers were between 500,000 and 700,000 yen.
NISTEP conducted the study between January and February last year with cooperation from universities, surveying approximately 120,000 students who have completed or plan to complete a master's degree. It received just over 17,000 responses.
Of the respondents, 33.7% had loans, with master's course students having the highest rate at 43.6%, followed by 30.4% for six‐year program students, 16.2% for working adult students, and 6.4% for international students. 45.2% reported borrowing at least 3 million yen.
44.7% of the respondents had teaching assistant (TA) experience, 5.7% had research assistant (RA) experience, and 52.9% had no experience. 67.6% of master's course students had TA experience, with the highest percentage in agriculture at 76.1%.
Regarding future plans, 9.6% of respondents planned to pursue a doctoral degree, and 1.7% were preparing to pursue a doctoral degree, meaning about 10% of students planned to continue their education. However, approximately 70% answered that they were looking for a job, including those currently job hunting. By student type, 25.5% of international students indicated that they plan to continue their education.
When asked about why they chose to seek employment, 66.2% said they wanted to be economically independent, 59.9% said they wanted to work in society, 38.4% said they were concerned about their economic prospects after completing a doctoral program, and 31.1% said they were worried about their prospects for continuing their education after completing a doctoral program.
When asked about the most effective measures to increase the number of students entering doctoral programs, the most common responses were, in order of effectiveness, "providing doctoral students with salaries," "improving salaries and other benefits for Ph.D. holders in industry," "improving the research environment for young researchers," and "increasing the employment of Ph.D. graduates by industry."
The rate of students continuing to graduate school, not just doctoral programs, decreased from 16.7% in 2000 to 9.4% in 2020, raising concerns about Japan's declining international competitiveness. As part of its response to declining birthrates, the government is seeking to improve support for childbirth and childrearing, but if it truly wants to increase the number of children, it will need to create an environment where children from middle‐income families can study at universities and graduate schools without financial worries.
This article has been translated by JST with permission from The Science News Ltd. (https://sci-news.co.jp/). Unauthorized reproduction of the article and photographs is prohibited.