TOKYO >> Despite the many advantages of getting a college education overseas, many Japanese students are held back by two things: information and money. But various scholarship programs in Japan can help students clear both hurdles.
As most Americans know, a prestigious private university in Britain or the United States can easily cost $52,500 (6 million yen) a year in tuition. To make matters even more challenging, there are few Japanese high school staffs that know how to navigate the application process at foreign universities.
In Japan, enrolling in a foreign university is not nearly as common as participating in short-term study-abroad programs.
The Yanai Tadashi Foundation, privately funded by Yanai, founder of Fast Retailing Co., has been offering scholarships to universities in the United States since 2017 and in Britain since 2019. Fast Retailing is the parent company of Uniqlo.
The foundation provides recipients with up to about $87,600 (10 million yen) per year for four years of study in the United States. In Britain, about the same amount is offered for three years.
The scholarship has been awarded to 155 students, the first of whom graduated this year.
“Japan is connected to the rest of the world. Yanai hopes that students from all over the world will come into contact and become leaders in their respective fields,” said Yoshio Ishida, a foundation official.
Another program, the Grew Bancroft Foundation, is named after two U.S. ambassadors to Japan, Joseph Grew and Edgar Bancroft. At more than 90 years old, it is one of the most famous scholarships in Japan for students seeking to study abroad.
The Ezoe Memorial Recruit Foundation also offers scholarships for international study. Its focus is on education in the arts, sports and science.
“Companies around the world are not looking for bilingual or trilingual people, but for ‘bicultural’ or ‘tricultural’ people who can view multiple cultures from a neutral standpoint,” said Naohiko Hinoda, the headmaster of middle and high schools affiliated with Musashino University in Tokyo. “It is very significant to go to a foreign university when you are young and come to know various people, ideas and cultures. I think it would be good if there were more types of scholarships.”
Midori Hosoda, awarded a scholarship from the Yanai Tadashi Foundation, had her eye on medical school. She did her undergraduate work at Columbia University in New York with a double major in biology and comparative literature.
“I was attracted by the fact that students who want to become a doctor can study a wide range of subjects, from science to liberal arts, at universities in the United States, while in Japan, such people enter university medical departments right after high school graduation,” she said.
Hosoda is currently a graduate student at the University of Oxford in England studying medical anthropology.
She said that while attending school in America, the world opened up, “as I not only learned from textbooks … but also met so many people and was exposed to so many things.”