Women’s Universities Dwindling Amid Trend Toward Coeducation and ConsolidationSociety Education
A fiscal 2022 report on women’s universities in Japan published by the Education Research Institute of Mukogawa Women’s University (Nishinomiya, Hyōgo Prefecture) shows that the number of four-year women’s universities decreased from 98 in 1998 to 75 in 2021 as a result of an increasing trend since 2000 toward coeducation and the consolidation of universities. Among the 75 universities, 2 are national, 2 are public, and 71 are private universities.
The total number of universities in Japan has increased from 600 to 800 over the past 20 years, whereas women’s universities have decreased at a pace of one per year. In April of this year, Kobe Shinwa Women’s University and Kagoshima Immaculate Heart University, with student bodies of 1,500 and 600, respectively, will make a new start as coeducational institutions, the former under the new English name of Kobe Shinwa University.
Among women’s universities with graduate schools, more than half, or 36, already accept men into their graduate programs.
The primary reason for the drop in the number of women’s universities is the shrinking pool of applicants due to Japan’s declining number of births. In addition, female students are increasingly interested in coeducational institutions and are applying to relatively large universities.
In the past, women’s universities, especially private ones, were mainly composed of one or two faculties, such as literature and home economics. As a result, since the 1990s, the number of applicants has decreased because they have not been able to meet the needs of women who want to study in practical economics and business-related faculties or science and engineering faculties.
The graph below shows the changes over the past 20 years in the number of faculties at private women’s universities. The percentage of universities with just one faculty has decreased significantly as more and more institutions establish new faculties in a bid to survive. With an increasing number of women pursuing careers, there has been a noticeable trend toward creating faculties directly related to the acquisition of job-related qualifications, such as faculties for business and information studies, architecture and design, or nursing and social welfare.
(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)