UK culture biggest attraction for Japanese students

Image by hitthatswitch under Creative Commons Licence, on Flickr. 

14 November 2014

Our new research finds that Japanese students have positive attitudes towards overseas study, despite a decline in numbers studying abroad.

Japan, with the world’s third largest economy, has seen a precipitous slide from a high of 83,000 Japanese students who studied abroad in 2004 to 57,501 in 2011. The downward trend has become a national concern, and Japan has made creating a globally-competitive young workforce a priority; aiming to double the number of domestic students studying overseas by 2020.

To support countries and institutions wishing to attract Japanese students, the British Council’s Education Intelligence service surveyed 2000 Japanese students and recent graduates to try to understand their intentions and motivations towards study abroad.

Contrary to the belief that Japanese students have an ‘inward-looking’ attitude, the report, ‘Japan: Debunking the “inward-looking” myth’ found that their sentiments towards overseas study is favourable. Thirty three per cent of Japanese students stated they were interested in study abroad and the 12 per cent who stated they had already studied overseas previously were the most optimistic about their future. Forty six per cent of students who responded to the survey were not interested in studying abroad, while nine per cent didn’t know.

Experiencing the host country’s culture was the most attractive draw, both for students who had studied abroad, and for those that wished to. The UK’s culture was an even bigger pull than the US - more students who wanted to study in the UK cited UK culture as their main reason for wanting to study there, compared to those who wished to study in the US and were attracted by US culture.

“There are cultural considerations that are unique to students across the globe,” says Anna Esaki-Smith, Editorial Director at Education Intelligence and the author of the report. “However, with this survey we can see that very fundamental considerations, such as inadequate foreign language ability, cost and employment, play significant roles when Japanese students consider overseas study. With a deeper understanding of what students see as the benefits of study abroad, and the possible advantages to be gained, the potential to inspire more Japanese students to become more globally competitive through study abroad increases.”