Japan Data

Japan’s Private Universities Struggle to Meet Admission Capacity

Society Education

With fewer 18-year-olds due to the decline in population, Japan’s small and regional private universities are finding it difficult to attract students.

A survey assessing shifts in admission applications conducted by the Promotion and Mutual Aid Corporation for Private Schools of Japan found that the total admission capacity rate (ratio of enrollees to admission capacity) for private universities in spring 2021 fell to 99.8%. This is the first time since 1989 that it has fallen below 100%. The rate in 2020 was at 102.6%, indicating a 2.8-point drop over the last year.

The data, as of May 1, was compiled from 597 universities nationwide, not including those that had suspended admission. Of the four-year private universities, 277 had an admission capacity rate below 100% and their enrollment rates also fell below capacity. This equated to 46.4% of the total and was an increase of 93 universities (15.4 points) compared to 2020.

Total admission capacity increased by 0.8% to 495,162. In contrast, although the number of successful applicants increased by 6.6% to 1,437,906, applicants decreased by 12.2% to 3,834,862, examinees dropped by 12.2% to 3,663,962, and admitted students fell by 1.9% to 494,213. In brief, it meant that the number of applicants, examinees, and enrollees fell, while admission capacity and successful applicants rose.

Looking at the admission capacity rate by university size, the rate for universities with a capacity of more than 3,000 students increased by 0.8 points to 99.9%, while the rate for universities with a capacity of between 1,500 and 2,999 students decreased by 1.0 point to 101.3%. These institutions demonstrated a tendency to meeting capacity by maintaining the same levels as the previous year. Meanwhile, there was a particularly noticeable drop in the rates at smaller universities. The rate for universities with 300 to 399 students decreased by 9.2 points to 95.2%, and the rate for those with fewer than 100 students fell by 10.1 points to 87.2%.

By region (aggregated by school location), the rate in Japan’s largest metropolitan areas, centered on Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya only decreased by 1.7 percentage points to 100.6%, marking a difference to other regions, where there was a larger 6.2 percentage point drop to 97.3%.

(Originally published in Japanese. Banner photo: The 2021 Senshū University entrance ceremony, held jointly for first- and second-year students at the Budōkan, Chiyoda, Tokyo on April 5, 2021. Last year’s entrance ceremony in April 2020 was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. © Jiji.)

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