Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Surviving with Less Money in Japan

Hello readers!

No one is spared from the ill-effects of the global economic downturn. Even rich countries like Japan is not an exception. When I was a Japanese government scholar, students' monthly allowances were slashed between 2% and 5% per year.

The ill-effects of studying and living abroad with depleting financial sources is quite challenging for students--Japanese and non-Japanese alike. Other students take part time jobs or 'arubaito' to augment their cash flow. Those who do not have external financial support and living with their families feel the burden even more. We know for a fact that living in a developed country like Japan is quite expensive.

Some students take odd jobs even during school hours--leaving little time for academic pursuit--thereby compromising health and university work. In search for income, they become isolated with their friends that make them vulnerable to loneliness and even depression.

In addition to increasing the students' monthly allowance--as suggested by the article below--the provision of more low-cost or free housing will be advantageous to students. The creation of more part time jobs and teaching the students on how to become wise spenders will be beneficial as well. On the other hand, educational institutions should take part in creating a supportive environment so that students can focus on the most important reason why they are in the academia--to enhance their educational milieu.

The Japan Times, 21 Feb 2010

The most recent evidence of the terrible effects of Japan's economic slowdown comes from the National Federation of University Co-operative Associations. This consumer cooperative, which researches and supports university life, reported last October that more university students than ever are having a hard time paying for their studies.

Students' difficulties these days are more than the standard tight budgets all students suffer through. The Co-op report found that the number of university students living away from home who receive no allowance at all from their parents hit a record 10.2 percent in 2009. Over 14 percent of all students said that a change in their family's finances during the past year had affected them. The survey found that students' average parental support, ¥74,000 per month, is the lowest since 1983, before the bubble economy.

Japanese parents may have once paid their children's tuition payments with pride, but these days, the percentage of students who depend on scholarships is at the highest level ever. The report found that 37 percent of students now receive aid. That percentage may seem small compared to the 63 percent of American college students receiving aid, but it comes at a cost. Students are now learning harsh lessons about financing their schooling rather than focusing on their major subjects. Once finished, they will learn that only 73.1 percent of students — this year's all-time low since the education ministries started keeping records in 1996 — can find full-time employment.

As education becomes more important for future workplace requirements, students are scrambling harder than ever to pay their bills. As educational tasks — specializations, language learning, critical thinking and communication skills — become more time-intensive to accomplish, students are devoting more of their time trying to pay for it all. With more pressure to pay back loans, greater time spent on part-time jobs and the increased stress of job-hunting, many students will likely be spending less time and energy learning than ever before.

The basic solution to these problems is fairly straightforward: greater financial support from the government. Many schools are already considering lowering tuition. Other changes are needed as well such as enabling students to start job-hunting later — instead of in their third year of study — to give them time to learn at the peak of their university years.

Source: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ed20100221a1.html

Related Links: Univ. student allowances in Japan drop near 1984 level
Read the Excerpts Click here

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