Financing higher education in Japan

Dick Thomas Johnson, Hosei University Entrance Ceremony 2016 on Flickr

Research summary

The Australia–Japan Research Centre (AJRC) and the ANU Research School of Economics (RSE) are taking part in a collaborative research project on the financing of higher education in Japan.

This is a policy area currently receiving major political and media attention in Japan; and a key reform priority given the country’s fiscal outlook, its highly educated labour market and its ongoing efforts to internationalise its education sector.

The project emerged from discussion among participants at the ANU’s Japan Update forum in September 2016. The RSE’s Professor Bruce Chapman, the architect of Australia’s HECS system and world leader in the field of income-contingent loans (ICLs), led the development of the project with AJRC director Dr Shiro Armstrong and leading Japanese labour economist, Professor Nobuko Nagase of Ochanomizu University.

Professor Lorraine Dearden of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, a labour economist with extensive experience in the development of the United Kingdom’s higher education financing scheme, has also provided research and methodological advice throughout the project’s development. Professor Dearden and Professor Nagase produced early research on the repayment burdens of Japanese student loans and what an ICL-based system in Japan might look like.

The project modeled an income contingent loan scheme for Japan as seen in the below publication.

Armstrong, Shiro, Lorraine Dearden, Masayuki Kobayashi and Nobuko Nagase, 2019. Student loans in Japan: current problems and possible solutions, Economics of Education Review, Volume 71, August, Pages 120-134.


In February 2017, AJRC and Ochanomizu University in Tokyo organised a stage-setting workshop held in Tokyo with the goal of examining Japan’s institutional and policy settings around financing higher education and assessing the potential for further research and reform.





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Opinion Pieces

Armstrong, S & Chapman, B 2017 - Improving equity and efficiency in Japanese higher education

Armstrong, S & Chapman, B 2017 - A better way to fund higher education in Japan

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