Thousands leave college in Japan due to pandemic

NHK -- Feb 22
The Japanese government has found that at least 5,800 college students either left school or took time off because of the spread of the coronavirus between April and December of last year.

The ministry of education conducted a survey of four-year universities and colleges, junior colleges and technical colleges across Japan. About 95 percent, or 1,009 schools, responded.

The spread of the coronavirus was cited as one of the main reasons for students leaving school.

The survey found that 1,367 students left school permanently, while 4,434 took some time off due to the pandemic.

Overall, 28,647 students left school permanently during the eight month period. This is down about 20 percent from the same period of the previous year.

65,670 students left school temporarily, which is almost 10 percent less than the previous year.

Ministry officials believe the decline is likely due to support mechanisms introduced during the pandemic.

They say 99 percent of schools extended tuition payment deadlines for the second term and 74 percent either reduced or waived tuition for students facing financial difficulties.

The government also rolled out a new national scholarship system for students from low income households last April. Officials say scholarships had been granted to nearly 270,000 students as of December.

But Professor Suetomi Kaori, a child poverty expert at Nihon University, believes the system is letting down students just above the scholarship threshold. She says many such students work to support their families and may eventually be forced to drop out if the pandemic continues.