Early enrollment (Spring Enrollment) losing ground, as more universities begin to shift to autumn enrollment

Chiba Univ. to delay early admission

April 13, 2013

The Yomiuri ShimbunCHIBA–Chiba University has decided to delay the admission period for its early-enrollment program for high school students by six months from April to October, according to sources.

The university’s panel reviewing the program plans to officially announce the decision next Thursday.

The move is aimed at increasing the number of students admitted early, of whom there have been less than 10 a year due mainly to anxieties over not having studied any third-year high school subjects.

The university currently admits qualified high school students who have finished the second year of their studies in April. The autumn entry of students in the middle of the process of completing their third year will be a first in the country.

An official at the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry’s University Promotion Division said, “[The timing for new enrollments] would help alleviate anxieties faced by high school students.”

The university will at first delay the admission period for one or two courses in the engineering department to autumn of the next academic year, and will expand to other courses after observing how it works, the sources said.

As students of the modified program would be taking classes from October with freshman students admitted in April, they will take intensive lessons in September on freshmen-level content for the first semester.

As students who are admitted in autumn are required to graduate in the summer of their senior year, there is concern they could miss the job-hunting season in April, when many firms employ new graduates.

Through its early graduation system, Chiba University plans to enable early-admission students to graduate in March, making it possible for them to complete their studies in three and a half years.

The university adopted the early-admission system for high school students who finished their second year in 1998, ahead of other universities. The system applies to the science, engineering and literature departments.


This academic year, four students were admitted under the system, with between two and nine admitted in past years, the university said.

Hiroyo Oki, 20, an early-admitted senior who is studying physical chemistry in the science department, was optimistic about the new system. “The number of students using the system will probably increase,” she said.

She said she was worried that her lack of high school math experience could affect her performance at university, despite finishing her high school math studies by the end of her second year.

“I didn’t have enough time to work on [math] exercises in high school,” she said. “I was worried whether I would be able to keep up with other students.”

The new program will give early admission students more time to study before enrolling in university, thereby removing such anxieties, she added.

The early admission system has not been very popular at other universities, either.

According to the education ministry, 101 students, including graduates, entered universities under the early enrollment system as of April 2012.

The figure was 26 for Meijo University in Nagoya, which introduced the system in the 2001 academic year, and was between one and four for four other universities.

In the United States, more than 170,000 past and current students used early admission and similar systems as of 2007, according to the ministry, among them world-class scientists.

More than half of 51 Chiba University graduates who entered the university under the system went to graduate schools of domestic and foreign universities including those of the University of Tokyo, Kyoto University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to Chiba University.

These students include a doctoral researcher at a prestigious U.S. university and a private research institute research fellow.


Univ. of Tokyo studying autumn start for classes with spring enrollment The Yomiuri Shimbun (Oct. 25, 2012)

The University of Tokyo, which is considering shifting enrollment for its undergraduate programs from April to autumn, is studying the introduction of a term schedule in which classes would start in autumn, but spring enrollment would continue, it has been learned.

If a consensus is reached within the university, the school will aim to implement the new schedule for freshmen who enroll in the 2014 academic year.

The new schedule was devised taking into consideration the views of those faculty members who oppose a complete shift to autumn enrollment.

By maintaining spring enrollment, the university can administer an introductory program for new students during the first five months of their program. Under the new schedule, students will still graduate in March, the same as now.

The new idea was worked out in late September by a study panel on the autumn enrollment scheme, comprised of the university vice president and faculty members and established in April. The proposed schedule has been presented as an interim report at undergraduate and graduate faculty meetings.

After gathering the opinions presented at the meetings, the panel will issue a report for President Junichi Hamada within this academic year, which ends in March, and Hamada will make a final judgment on the matter, according to an informed source.

According to the plan, new students who enrolled in April will have a “fresh program” in April and May, giving those who have been engrossed in study for entrance exams an opportunity to think about what they intend to study.

The summer holiday will be longer than the present one, lasting from June to August. During this time, the university will host a summer program, in which prominent researchers and students from prestigious universities abroad will be invited to take part.

New students will also be able to opt for a so-called “gap term,” in which they can study abroad or participate in volunteer programs from April through August following spring enrollment.

Regular classes will start in September, with the first semester for each academic year scheduled from September through December and the second from mid-January through May. The final semester of students’ senior year will end in March, the month of graduation.

To make up for a possible reduction in class hours, the panel is considering increasing the number of such hours taken each week.

An informal proposal was made at the university in March to shift enrollment for its undergraduate programs from April to autumn. Hamada, a proponent of the plan, then set up the study panel, with the intention of introducing autumn enrollment in five years.

The proposal was made to pave the way for the university to become more international. By having its enrollment period coincide with that of foreign universities, it can host more foreign students and encourage more Japanese students to study abroad. Entrance exams would still be held in the spring, but the university would abolish springtime enrollment.

Yet the proposal later met with a barrage of internal criticism, with some arguing that shifting to autumn enrollment would force about 3,000 new students to wait six months after passing the entrance exam before they could enroll. Other faculty members said the university would be “violating [prospective] students’ right to study.”

Meanwhile, there has been no progress on making autumn enrollment compatible with the present national examination scheme for medical practitioners and law schools, as both exams are held on the assumption students will graduate in the spring.

In light of this, the study panel has proposed keeping spring enrollment in place, based on the suggestions of liberal arts faculty members who are cautious about autumn enrollment.

Although it remains uncertain whether the new term schedule will lead to a total shift to autumn enrollment, a senior university official said: “[The new plan] represents de facto autumn enrollment. There is no change in our basic policy of completely shifting to autumn enrollment in the future.”

Hitotsubashi University and the Tokyo Institute of Technology are also reportedly studying the idea of starting freshmen classes in autumn while maintaining spring enrollment.

(Oct. 25, 2012)


Entrance exams put university in bind over shift of academic year (Japan Times)
The University of Tokyo, which plans to shift the start of its academic year from spring to fall, is considering an interim measure to start classes in September while keeping the start of enrollment in April, according to school officials.

The measure has been approved by an in-house panel on enrollment system reform and will be considered further within the university before a final plan is reported to university President Junichi Hamada, possibly by March.

Along with April enrollment, the March graduation schedule would also remain unchanged.

The university could launch the transitional system as early as the April 2014 academic year.

“We can’t wait until the qualification examination system is reformed,” said a senior official of the school, also known as Todai, referring to problems the shift to fall enrollment may cause in relation to various national exams.

“Starting classes in September would make shifting enrollment to the fall easier in the future,” the official said.

The interim measure, a compromise to appease opponents within the university to an all-out shift to fall enrollment, is likely to influence other universities moving toward the same system.

The movement has come to prominence lately as Japanese universities try to remain internationally relevant.

Under the proposed interim system, students who enroll in April will take “fresh programs” until May to study fundamental concepts such as the meaning of learning while also attending regular classes.

The period between June and August will be summer vacation, during which students may take special lectures. They may also choose to study abroad or take part in volunteer programs.

Full-fledged classes would start in September, with the first semester of the year running through December and the second from mid-January to May. The two-semester system would continue until fourth-year students graduate in March.

Last March, a panel set up at the initiative of Hamada presented an interim report recommending the shift to fall enrollment. Hamada indicated the university would switch to the new system within around five years.

Hitotsubashi University and Tokyo Institute of Technology are also studying the transitional measure of starting classes in September while keeping April enrollment. Waseda University plans to partially introduce a four-quarter system next year.

Little parental favor

Nearly 40 percent of parents in a survey by a test-coaching company are opposed to universities switching the start of their academic year from spring to fall.

Many said they are concerned about the “blank” period that would result between high school graduation and starting college.

In the Internet poll of 2,623 people with children up to 18 years old, 37 percent said fall enrollment would “not be good” or “not very good,” surpassing the 28 percent who either said it would be “very good” or “somewhat good,” Benesse Corp. said.

“I wouldn’t know what to let (children) do during the blank period,” one parent said, while another opposed to the move said, “I’m concerned about whether there would be any jobs available (for new graduates) in fall.”


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