Studying in Japan is an unusual choice for Indians right from the on-set. It is assumed that if you have come so far in your research and have shortlisted it as one of the options for your further studies, you have a solid reason for it. It always helps, however, to dive a little deeper into any of your decisions and create a safety net of options before you make the final choice. The cost of studying is a significant consideration.
While there are grants and scholarships available at every stage, one must be aware of and account for the expenses at each stage to avoid last-minute hassles. Since we are talking of the Japanese sub-continent, it makes more sense to understand the expenses in the Japanese currency, Yen (¥).
Starting with a basic tuition fee, depending on whether you choose a public university or a private university, you must expect an academic year to cost you something in between ¥550000 to ¥120000. An admission fee of close to ¥300000 and an examination fee of ¥ 25000 to ¥30000, on an average, is additionally something one must account for. You can choose to live on a college campus if you want to save living costs.
Most university websites will give you a sense of the yearly expenditure that you might have to incur in case you pick their university for a course. It is more important, however, that you evaluate the return on investments i.e. the job opportunities that will help you recover the cost after the course; the value of an undergraduate course for admissions in a masters program; or the possibility of settling in the country if you so wish. It is essential thereby to identify why are you choosing Japan over so many other countries. Having a look at a country and course guide might help. Once you have clarity on these aspects, the costs will be easier to compare and analyse.
In recent years a few selected universities and courses have managed to attract Indian students through exchange programs and other schemes, it is safe to say that the progress is not as fast as the bullet trains. Apart from our obsession with the west, there are numerous other reasons that Japan is not such a popular choice for Indian youth. One of the chief reasons is that the cost of studying and living in Japan easily compares to education in the US or UK; while the returns are questionable.
In over 800 universities that Japan has, about 200 falls under the public/national category, while the others are private. This is an essential consideration as you plan further studies in Japan. The following are other facts about the expenses involved in Japan-based higher education.
For most national/public universities, tuition fees of an average academic year cost close to half a million yen with admission fees close to 0.3 million yen. While the latter remains the same for private universities as well, the tuition fees may go up to a million yen. These figures slightly vary depending on whether you are opting for Bachelors, Masters or Doctoral Programmes, but you can account for this as an average. You must bear in mind that an average Bachelors degree lasts for four years in Japan, while the duration of a Masters degree is two years in Japan. You must budget for your course accordingly.
Japan provides a variety of grants and scholarships in an attempt to attract more international students and strengthen their educational foundation. You can visit the websites of MEXT to find out more information about the kind of funds available for the courses you are interested in. You can also check if you are eligible for any government scholarships available in Japan. Apart from these, there are also numerous possibilities of fee waivers by the university you choose to study in. It always helps to look up the alumni of the course you are planning to undertake and politely contact them online to know about the inside information of the possibilities. It is better to state this than not. Therefore I mention, do not stalk or harass them! Be decent about the information you need, and I am sure they will be happy to help.
An average student spends anywhere between ¥ 80000 to ¥ 100000 per month on accommodation and other survival needs. These costs vary on the area that you choose to live in and the lifestyle you want to adopt. Cities like Osaka and Tokyo are more expensive than other cities in rural Japan.
The Return on investment
As fascinating and exciting a stay in Japan might sound, students must identify their personal constraints, in terms of time, money, and feasibility to make an informed decision. If you are counting on educational loans that you might have to repay or on making money while you are studying, you must also read this article on work and internship opportunities in Japan, before you make a choice. It is also essential to evaluate what the value of Japanese degree might be in the rest of the world, especially in India, if you plan to come back and settle here.
This might be different for different streams. For example, a degree in automobile engineering might hold much more value coming from Japan, than a degree in let's say the English language. While the distinction might seem obvious in this case, it might not be so in many other fields of science and commerce. You must sit down and work rigorously hard on finding the credibility of the courses you are planning to take since the investment you make is going to bear a significant burden on you; financially and otherwise.
As you consider the above factors, it is vital that you account for specifications in each case, and exceptions, and rely on experiences of students who have had direct encounters with these universities. It always helps in picking up the phone and speaking to representatives of these colleges to help you understand what it might feel like to study there. Study portals might also help you in reaching out to other students who have passed out or are currently studying in the university you are aiming at. The internet has considerably shortened distances which also goes a long way in helping you make a better choice. Whatever you do, ensure that you are convinced about what you choose, since the right decision at this stage can significantly ease your career and give you an edge in this world of increasing competition.