Japanese education consultants are increasingly competing with universities to send language students abroad, largely due to government campaigns introduced in the past decade, the Japan Association of Overseas Studies has found.
A survey of 38 of JAOS’ 41 agency members in 2017 found that 78,109 students travelled overseas – 1,000 fewer when compared to the 2016 survey, to which 40 education agencies contributed.
“Japanese universities are our rivals nowadays,” said Tatsu Hoshino, JAOS executive secretary. “But we try to partner with them as well, and some of our members are successfully outsourced by them.”
Government projects such as the TeamUp Campaign 2015 and Tobitate!(Leap for Tomorrow) Young Ambassador Program in 2013 have sought to increase the numbers of Japanese students travelling abroad as a part of their studies.
JAOS said the analysis shows that outbound numbers have flattened rather than dropped, which was due to a Fiji-focused agent withdrawing JAOS membership in 2017.
The agent did not participate in the survey and previously sent around 900 students per year, Hoshino noted.
“Overall, the language market for Japanese has still been on the rise,” Hoshino added, and financial support from the government entices prospective language students to study abroad through university programs.
While the US saw a decline from 19,024 in 2016 to 17,849 in 2017, the Philippines and Canada both recorded increases of 500 and 400 respectively. This means that the Philippines has leapfrogged the UK to become the fourth largest destination for students travelling abroad with JAOS members.
“Canada is an alternative destination to the US. We feel the US is less attractive because of security and immigration issues,” Hoshino told The PIE News.
While the US is still the largest outbound destination for Japanese students, its numbers fell by 1,130 – and language students made up the biggest proportion of that decrease. However, according to JAOS, the number of Japanese high school students wanting to attend US universities has been increasing in recent years.
Those seeking to obtain a bachelor’s degree in the US increased by 61 students to 741 in 2017, from 680 the previous year.
Elsewhere, Japanese students seeking places in junior high schools increased by 670 students to 15,870 from 15,200, which JAOS said was likely because of a “rise in awareness” among parents who want their children to become “globally functional professionals, both in and out of Japanese society” through their schooling.
However, the traditionally most popular “language study abroad” options have declined, according to JAOS. According to the statistics, Australia fell by around 350 students, from 17,411 in 2016 to 17,076 in 2017.
Alongside Canada, another country is bucking the trend. With a total of 6,755 students in 2017, a rise of 2,837 students in two years, the Philippines is growing as a destination for Japanese students wishing to study English abroad.
“ELT schools in the Philippines provide different kind of values such as affordable price, one to one lessons, Japanese supporting staff on the spot, closer distance, and so on,” Hoshino said.
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