Foreign students in Japan up 4.4% before Coronavirus outbreak

Foreign students in Japan up 4.4% before Coronavirus outbreak

The number of foreign students in Japan was on the way up and the country registered an increase of 4.4% in international enrolments before the Coronavirus disruption.

A recent study found that Japan experienced a significant rise in its international student intake over the previous year until May 2019, which is now likely to have ground to a halt due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The key findings of the annual Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) survey (in Japanese), concerning the statistical period up until May 2019, were that Japan’s total number of international students rose by 13,234 to a total of 312,214 (4.4%) compared to May 1 2018.

Japanese higher education saw 9.3% increase in foreign students

Of the total number, 228,403 were international students enrolled in higher education institutions. These institutions experienced a 9.3% increase in international student intake numbers, (a rise of 19,502 students) from the previous year.

JASSO also found that Japan accepted far more international study applications. In 2018, the number of accepted applications from international students was 21,039, an increase of 8.2% from the 2017 figure.

Chinese students studying in Japan rose by 8.3%

In terms of the home countries of Japan’s international students, JASSO found that China, by far, dominated. In 2019, the number of Chinese students studying in Japan rose by 9,486 to 124,436, an increase of 8.3% from the previous year.

Outside China, the rest of the top five countries with rising numbers of international students in Japan were Nepal (an 8.1% increase), Vietnam (1.4%), Korea (7.8%) and Taiwan (0.6% increase, of 60 individuals).

Breaking down these statistics into each enrollment stage, special training schools (offering specialized courses) experienced the most significant increase of international students, with a rise of 16.8%.

Japanese language education institutions experienced the sharpest decline in numbers of international students, with a decrease of 7.0% international students enrolled in its courses from the previous year.

The only other category which experienced a decline in numbers was colleges of technology (experiencing a 0.8% decrease).

Other categories which experienced a positive increase in its international student numbers were graduate schools (5.8% increase), junior colleges (16.6% increase), preparatory curriculums (2.4% increase) and at the undergraduate university level (5.6% increase).

Last year, we also reported on the fact that the number of in-work foreign students in Japan, who changed their status to work permits from student visa, hit a record high in 2018. A total of 25,942 students switched their residence status in order to land a job in Japan.

However, due to the widespread impact felt by the global Coronavirus outbreak, it is expected that these numbers will experience a significant hit over the next statistical period.

Pic: Aleksandar Pasaric

Josephine Walbank - Reporter, Global Education Times (GET News)

Josephine Walbank is a reporter for Global Education Times (GET News) with a focus on education in the UK, Asia-Pacific, and Americas, and student experience and lifestyle news.

Josephine is an experienced journalist who previously served as the Editor-in-Chief of The Falmouth Anchor. She is also the former Deputy Editor of Voices, the Falmouth & Exeter Students’ Union’s publication, and has written for various food and lifestyle publications.

You can reach her at

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