• 15 . 10 . 04
  • Education is expensive enough at home, but in Japan it’s taken to extremes.

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The Price Of Learning

I was among the first few years of students who had to pay to go to university in England, which naturally annoyed me quite a bit. A few thousand pounds is a lot when you have no income and lots of beer to be drunk. One thing I am glad of is that I finished before the so-called Labour government managed to hike fees up to about £3000 a year. Sorry, I mean allow the universities to choose to increase the fees if they feel the need. Good luck finding a university that doesn’t. But, like with women’s lib though, I found out that we don’t really have it quite so bad back home.

For a start, could you imagine paying for a prospectus? That is, the propaganda-filled advert whose sole design is to ensure you choose their university and thus help boost their government grants eligibility. I didn’t think you could put a price on those, but the Japanese do; around ¥4000 a time. If you are choosing between four or five unis, it’ll cost you close to a hundred quid.

So, you choose which universities you want to apply to. The next step is to apply and pay another couple of thousand yen for the privilege. Again, this would be for each university you want to apply for. Of course, you could just apply to one university, but if you fail their exam, you don’t get to go at all. And there’s no clearing system like UCAS, so if you don’t get a university, you’re on your own.

Oh yeah, the exam. You’re charged for that too, and because of the above, most people take two or three exams. You are then further charged if you pass the exam! Why? This is probably along the lines of reikin and is basically a thank-you for being accepted. The best thing about this part is that even if you choose not to go to that university, you still have to pay the acceptance fee! Japanese economics in its purest, most blatantly opportunistic form. (The Japanese economy and supply-chain is a whole other topic, but suffice to say it is closer to bistromatics than mathematics…)

Of course, that’s before the university fees themselves. So really, when I think about uni and having to pay for it, I realise I’m kind of quite lucky to have got it as cheaply as I did. Especially, as English education is due to become Americanised soon anyway.

In other news I won a teapot yesterday, which brightened my day no end. Have a picture to brighten your day too…

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