Japan Univ. Admissions Seen Falling by 130,000 by 2040s

Tokyo (Jiji Press)—The annual number of students entering university in Japan in 2040 to 2050 is expected to fall by about 130,000 from 2022, an education ministry estimate showed Friday.

The yearly number of university admissions in the 11-year period is put at around 500,000, down from about 630,000 last year, according to the projection submitted to a subcommittee of the Central Council for Education, which advises the education minister.

The subcommittee is set to discuss responses to the drop in students, including a possible realignment of universities, as new admissions may fall below 80 pct of the total enrollment slots in some of the years in the projection period.

The estimate was based on data from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.

The number of 18-year-olds, which is on the decline, is seen hovering around 820,000 and 790,000 annually in 2040-2050.

Assuming that the proportion of those entering university will be around 60 pct in the age group and that the share of foreign students at Japanese universities will remain at about 3 pct, the number of new admissions is expected to be at around 490,000 and 510,000 per year.

The total number of enrollment slots in some 800 universities across Japan stood at some 626,500 in 2022. Even if the proportion of foreign students rises to about 8 pct, the average among the Group of Seven nations, only about 520,000 to 530,000 students will enter university per year, about 100,000 fewer than the total slots available last year.

The ministry also said that the rate of filled enrollment slots at universities in 2040 is estimated to be highest among Japan’s 47 prefectures in Chiba, near Tokyo, at 86.6 pct. Okinawa and Shimane prefectures are seen following at 85.1 pct and 84.6 pct, respectively.

On the other hand, Oita Prefecture is seen having the lowest rate at 70.0 pct, followed by Tokushima at 74.2 pct and Okayama at 74.5 pct.

The government’s Council for the Creation of Future Education proposed last year that the education ministry decides more strictly to halt subsidies to private universities with far fewer applicants than their enrollment slots, in light of the country’s declining birthrate.