1,000 in Doctoral Courses to Receive ¥2.3 million in Aid

The government will expand financial aid for about 1,000 doctoral students majoring in advance fields who will support the nation’s science and technology capabilities in the future. About ¥2.3 million per year each will be provided for living and research expenses.

Many graduate students have grown worried that their part-time income opportunities and career prospects after graduation will be limited as the novel coronavirus crisis wears on. The financial support is aimed at encouraging young researchers to not avoid doctoral programs.

The government will earmark a total of ¥2.8 billion in the third supplementary budget for fiscal 2020 and the fiscal 2021 budget.

About 30 universities are expected to be supported in the growth fields of information technology, artificial intelligence, quantum technology and material, in addition to about 25 universities that are innovating in fields including humanities and social sciences. Two-thirds of the allowance will be subsidized by the government, while the rest will be borne by universities.

In order for universities to receive subsidies, they need to submit employment support plans for graduate students with doctoral degrees and pass government reviews. The government hopes the program will include internship opportunities and other initiatives to encourage graduate students to take an interest in finding work at companies.

In 2018, the number of graduate students who advanced to doctorate courses was about 6,000, down by half over 15 years. Even if they obtain doctorate degrees and get jobs at universities, the opportunity is not long-term for many. It is believed that the number of them going on to doctoral programs is decreasing due to strong concerns about their lives and future.

Graduate students tend to give priority to research jobs at universities, and Japanese companies tend to shy away from hiring them because of their obsession with specialized fields and their age. Only 4% of corporate researchers hold doctorates, so the government hopes to actively support universities that promote graduate students’ employment in companies.