Study abroad project allows prefectures to select students

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry is aiming to dispatch 5,000 high school and university students overseas over five years starting in fiscal 2023 under a project to encourage students to study abroad with privately funded scholarships.

The ministry recently compiled the details of the project, titled “Tobitate! (Leap for Tomorrow) Study Abroad Initiative,” for fiscal 2023. In an effort to send more high school students overseas, an executive office will be formed in prefectures so that a structure under which local governments select students can be put into place.

The ministry plans to invite local governments to participate in the project along with selecting 12 prefectures.

The Tobitate project started in fiscal 2013, and a total of 9,471 students had been selected to participate by fiscal 2022. In the past, many applicants came from urban areas, but in order to recruit young people from across the country with a wide range of backgrounds, the ministry decided to create a system where local communities take the lead in promoting the project.

Under the plan, Tobitate councils comprising municipalities, high schools and companies will be formed in participating prefectures to select high school students under their own selection methods. An executive office will also be set up in the prefectures.

Participating prefectures will be subsidized for operating expenses and staffed with advisers to carry out the project. The number of students studying abroad per prefecture is expected to total about 100 over a three-year period.

The number of high school students studying abroad in 2017 was 46,869, less than half the number of college students, who exceeded 100,000 in the same year.

“We want more young people to gain a global sense through studying abroad,” a ministry official in charge said. “We want more young people to study abroad through the Tobitate project.”