While sushi, karaoke and bullet trains may be among the first things that come to mind when you think about Japan, there’s a long list of other reasons why this culturally rich and technologically advanced nation is a desirable destination for international students.
The cutting edge innovation for which Japan is known for didn't happen overnight. A formidable higher educational system with a commitment to research and development stands behind it. Japan boasts Asia’s highest number of Nobel prize winners thanks to its extraordinary academic tradition.
Earlier this year, Japan fended off challenges from rising higher education powers to hold onto 20 of the top 100 spots -- with ultimate #1 bragging rights going to the University of Tokyo -- in Times Higher Education’s Asian University Rankings. With approximately 780 universities from which to choose, as well as specialized vocational institutions, the academic options for international students are nearly boundless.
Japan is increasingly prioritizing education as a means of fostering economic growth, and internationalization leads the charge among higher education reforms.
As of May 2012, there were just under 140,000 international students in Japan, and that number is expected to skyrocket over the next 16 years due to the Global 30 initiative. This pledge by a collective of Japanese national universities seeks to attract 300,000 students from all over the world to study in Japan by the year 2020.
Other measures designed to attract global talent include letting students start in September -- as opposed to during Japan’s traditional academic starting month of April; allowing more coursework to be taught in English; recruiting global teaching staff; and encouraging both inbound and outbound international exchange programs.