Foreign-born children in Japan struggle to enter universities

Nikkei -- Jan 10
Japan's acute labor shortage has forced the government to increase the number of foreign workers in the country, prompting improvements in public services that target newcomers and help attract more overseas staff.

Still, hurdles remain for people who choose to make Japan their home, especially when it comes to ensuring that their children receive a full education.

University entrance exams start next week, a daunting, stress-filled time for most college hopefuls. But for foreign-born children in the country, the hurdles are magnified as they have to take the exams in Japanese, which puts them at a disadvantage compared with Japanese nationals.

There are different admissions frameworks for overseas students who want to study in Japan that typically do not require high proficiency in Japanese. These frameworks, however, are unavailable to foreign students already residing in the country, who may be functional in the language but often lack the fluency needed to do well on the tests.

A 2021 Nikkei survey found that only a few of about 80 national universities have an admissions framework in place for the children of foreign nationals. Although the 75 schools that responded do have systems for selecting international students, most require students to hold a high school diploma or university entrance qualification from their home country.

A total of 61 schools -- about 80% -- do not allow foreign-born students who are graduating from Japanese high schools to take entrance exams using the same framework as for international students.