Most of us are used to having the Philippine government, schools, or private benefactors providing financial aid for scholars. Thing is, this usually applies to pupils targeting learning institutions within the country. What do you do if you dream of studying in a foreign land?
One good thing you can do is to ask help from the government of the foreign country you’re interested in. Should you wish to study in the Land of the Rising Sun, you may be pleased to know that the Japanese government is willing to help.
Japanese Financial Aid, in a Nutshell
1. Background: Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) is offering help to deserving undergraduate students. The courses these students can choose from, however, are limited to certain sub-fields of discipline in the arenas of social science, natural science and humanities.
2. Number of Slots: There are no strict limitations on the number of students who may be accepted, so long as they meet all the qualifications and turn in all the requirements.
3. Deadlines: Please note that the applications for 2010 are closed as of the time of this article’s writing. The embassy will reopen applications—this time for 2011—sometime toward the end of March 2010 (It takes approximately a year for an application’s processing to be completed.). The deadline for sending in all relevant documents to the embassy will fall somewhere near the end of May 2010.
4. Application Process/Documents: Simply present one original copy and one photocopy (unless otherwise stated) of the following documents to the Japanese embassy in person.
• Medical certificate
• Enrollment certificate (if you’re currently enrolled in a learning institution
• Written certification of your having passed a college entrance exam or a graduation certificate of your last university attended (if you haven’t graduated yet, a certificate of expected graduation will also do)
o A photocopy of either one will also suffice, provided that your school or examining body will attest to its authenticity
• Written recommendation from your adviser/principal
• An academic transcript of records covering the last three school years
• Two original copies of the basic application form
• The application attachment (This is only form for those who feel confident enough about their Japanese language proficiency and knowledge, and who wish to apply to a Japanese university via direct placement.)
• Three recent 4.5 by 3.5 ID photos (uncapped, full-faced, and upper body). Remember to write your name and nationality on the backs of these pictures and post them on the application forms
5. Qualifications: Besides submitting the necessary paperwork, applicants must also meet the following criteria:
• The applicants’ country must have a Japanese embassy in it.
• They must be no younger than seventeen and no older than twenty-two at the time of the application. Their birthdays must also have taken place between April 2, 1988 and April 1, 1993 (This is for the 2010 batch. The dates may likely change next year.)
• Their educational level must be the equivalent of a Japanese secondary school graduate.
• They must be willing to learn Japanese via formal education.
• They must be mentally and physically fit for studying abroad.
• They need to be able to travel to and arrive in Japan between April 1 and 7 of the school year in question.
• They need to secure a college student visa.
• They must not be a registered member of the military.
• They must not be recipients of any other scholarship at the time of application or a recipient of a Japanese government scholarship less than three years before the time of the application (as of April 1 of the current school year).
• They should not already be enrolled in a Japanese university.
6. Other requirements:
You’ll also need to pass the screening procedures of the Japanese embassy. These will come in the form of interviews and exams. The content of the tests will depend largely on the student’s course of choice (E.g. natural science applicants get more science-related questions), yet all applicants will be tested in math, English and Japanese regardless.
While the legation handles the initial screening, it’s the MEXT, however, that determines the final listing of scholars. For more information on the screening, kindly check with the folks at the embassy (please see the contact details below).
Assuming the applicant makes the cut, he or she will still need to take and pass a one-year preparatory course involving the Japanese language and then some. Upon completing this course, the applicant may then take the entrance exam for a specific Japanese university (to be determined by the preparatory school, the university and the MEXT depending on the student’s prep school performance and other factors, besides).
There are exceptions, however. If the student demonstrates adequate Japanese language ability or applies (via direct placement) at a Japanese University that doesn’t require knowledge of the language, he or she can skip the prep course altogether.
Scholar Privileges and Obligations
The MEXT will provide an allowance for your study and airfare needs. The current allowance amount is 125,000 yen per month, plus an additional two or three thousand yen if you’re conducting research in certain areas (Please note that these amounts may change depending on the Japanese government’s budget restrictions).
Overall, the scholarship is good for six or seven years—a five or six-year course plus the one year preparatory course. Besides that, the Japanese government will also take care of all school-related fees and even provide you with economy class plane tickets for your flight to and from Japan.
Perhaps due the sheer number of requirements and qualifications involved, scholars are only expected to do three main things: show up for all their classes, pass them and behave. The MEXT will cancel the scholarship if the student undergoes disciplinary action, goes for a leave of absence or simply flunks a course. Otherwise, there are no minimum maintaining averages or other obligations on the side.
Contact Details and Miscellaneous Information
For more in-depth information on the topic (and to download the forms), kindly go to this webpage. Alternatively, you may call the Japanese Embassy in the Philippines at (632) 551-5710 or 834-7514. The embassy itself is located at 2627 Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City.
Ms. Ria of the Japanese Embassy in the Philippines