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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Declining Population Means Fewer Universities Required

So… we all know that Japan’s population is stuck in reverse thanks to its very limited immigration, but mostly because its adult population isn’t having enough procreational sex.

Couple that with a population that is able to live longer, Japan is facing an epic problem… too many old people and not enough youth… it’s a cave-in just waiting to happen.

I think I have touched upon the fact that Japan is going to run out of much-needed technical workers to perform the tasks that help keep Japan economically afloat… at least I think I did...

If not: Not enough smart, young people to work in scientific fields leads to a brain drain… or not enough people to work in the automobile factories means a decline in manufacturing… stuff like that… pretty soon the Japanese will be living like it’s some sort of zombie apocalypse… with the zombies being its elderly who just won’t die.

According to Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (that’s a helluva mix of fields!), thanks to Japan’s already shrinking population, in 2018 it will hit an all-time low for university enrollment... a trend that will continue for at least another 16 years (after 2018)—unless Japan starts having more babies right.... now! No, huh? Okay... for more than that! 

Consider also, if you will, that Japan has about 800 institutes of higher learning. You can see it’s a country that seems to value the necessity of higher education.

I didn’t say Good education… most Japanese high school kids bust a nut (or lady nut) to get into a Japanese university… but once there, there is a fair bit of slacking off.

Still… you have to pass the courses… Japan isn’t being run by stupid people… so they must have learned something in university.*

The 2018 Japan conundrum of universities grasping for students… well… I think the same thing happened to me back in 1983, when I somehow was accepted into all three universities I applied to. With my marks - it shouldn’t have happened, nay, couldn’t have happened in any year previous or since then.

But Japan… with a shortage of students—forget about DESERVING students—the big-time universities may not feel much of a decline, except in IQ… though, for the record, my IQ is stupidly high… it’s just that I was/am a classic under-achiever. IE lazy.

For the most part, I got over that laziness after graduating from university and applying to college.

The pinch in Japan will be felt in the lower and middle tier universities, because the upper ones will simply accept the same number of students it usually does… regardless of grade point average.

As such, starting in 2018, middle and low-tier universities will see diminishing enrollment…. which means that in a few years Japan could see the shuttering of many of its noble institutions of higher learning.

That means a loss in economy, with teachers and staff losing employment… possible scientific research teams losing grants and laboratory space…

It doesn’t mean that Japan is getting stupid… it just means that there will be fewer institutes of higher learning…

There are ways to avoid this, as far as I can think:

  1. Market university to senior citizens… there’s a heck of a lot of them… they have cash and time on their hands. I’m not saying they need to take the same courses as the youth—they could if they wanted to—but perhaps try and gear degrees or courses towards their generational likes: music, dance, history, pachinko… but elder-specific in nature.
  2. Have more English-speaking professors of courses while encouraging enrollment of English-speaking students to come to the university from abroad. Have you ever heard many American or Australian people saying they were just accepted into Waseda University in Tokyo? Create the opportunity for foreign students to come to Japan to learn under a foreign or English-speaking Japanese teacher/professor.
There’s probably more, but that’s all I can come up with during my lunch on Wednesday.

Andrew Joseph
PS: I am a university and community college graduate. Political science and journalism. Only one graduation certificate is worth the paper it was printed on. Still… having a university degree enabled me to apply to the JET Programme when I finished journalism at college… so there is that… however…

*I didn’t learn a damn thing in university. I did learn a damn thing at college. Theory vs Practical… I’ll take practical any day.

1 comment:

  1. That does sound like a great idea for Japanese universities to do. Giving Americans and Australians a chance to attend Japanese universities will become a big step for the younger generation. It will benefit Japan from the population decline and also xenophobia.