Feb 15, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

A recent article published in The Japan Times took on a perplexing question: Why don’t more Japanese students study abroad?  According to the findings, it comes down to one thing above all else: Cost. Here’s a closer look at the situation, along with an overview of options which can help aspiring Japanese international students pursue their study abroad goals after all.

The Price Problem

After surveying a group of Japanese students who had enrolled in Japanese institutions after seriously considering overseas programs, Japanese-Russian Christina Nikitin -- a first-year student at a top American university -- determined that cost was a major impediment to following through for students who’d applied and been admitted to schools abroad. Cost was also the primary factor for students who opted out of applying completely.

Particularly noteworthy? These cost concerns held true even for middle-class students attending prestigious -- and costly -- private schools.

Overcoming the Obstacle

The survey revealed that while many students received financial aid and that their parents were willing to contribute to overseas studies, most still fell approximately $15,000 short of the estimated $70,000 total annual cost of studying abroad.

So what can be done to correct the situation and promote outward exchange? Initiatives are already underway. The Japan Times article cites two different scholarship funds aimed at supporting international studies for Japanese students. Additionally, many top Japanese high schools offer generous financial aid for students not only during high school, but also throughout college.

Sill, the article highlights an ongoing concern: Whether the system is “funneling kids of privilege to universities of privilege.” At the same time, there’s another way of looking at it. Concludes The Japan Times, “Satisfaction does not only come from some faraway place, though. The Nikitin study indicated that 78 percent of respondents who decided to matriculate to Japanese universities were either extremely or somewhat satisfied with their decision to stay in Japan.”

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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