MEXT and Immigration Services Agency to tighten the registration of foreign students

On June 11, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), and the Immigration Services Agency announced that they would place administrative guidance on Tokyo University of Social Welfare not to accept new foreign students for their preparatory language program until some appropriate arrangements are made. These agencies also announced that they advised the university to tighten their general application system for foreign students. This action came after the discovery of a huge number of foreign students who had stopped attending classes at the university. This was followed by an on-the-spot investigation by these agencies, in an attempt to avoid further incidents of this kind. These agencies plan to provide guidance on how to improve school management. Furthermore, they will request the university to submit their reform plans, and monitor their progress.

On the same day, these agencies also revealed their new policy towards academic institutions which will include requiring a more thorough registration system for foreign students. Many foreign students who initially enrolled at universities and technical colleges were found to be missing, with some expelled from those schools as their whereabouts were unknown. Consequently, these missing students could have potentially been illegally staying in the country, and possibly working illegally too. As a result of this, the two agencies stated that they will work closely together to take control over the issue.

For a start, MEXT will require academic institutions to follow up with foreign students that have registered, and review how to file a regular report on the number of foreign students who have dropped out, have been expelled, or have lost touch with the schools. Depending on the extent of any oversights, MEXT will carry out fact-finding investigations. Those that fail to adopt these measures will be reported to the Ministry of Justice and barred from accepting any new foreign students.

The Immigration Services Agency and MEXT will disclose the names of schools deemed to have insufficient control over foreign students, or those deemed to require careful monitoring, and in addition, the agency will then not grant student visas to foreign students who apply to these schools.

According to the two agencies, Tokyo University of Social Welfare lost track of 305 foreign students (10.1%) in fiscal 2016, which increased to 823 (16.0%) in fiscal 2018. They also found that 94 preparatory language course students had been absent from the classes since the start of the course, and the schools had lost touch with 66 of them.

While schools accept foreign students with the hope of enabling them to take an active role in Japanese society, they are expected to manage their enrollment adequately and improve their monitoring of foreign students to avoid further scrutiny over the entire foreign student policy of the country.

[Reference]MEXT: New policy towards a thorough registration of foreign students at academic institutions