The Business of Overseas Study: Behind the Scenes at Language Schools
International Students Sent Home as a Warning to Others (#2 of 5 part series)
Cases have come to light of international students at vocational colleges and Japanese language schools being sent back to their home countries after committing crimes such as shoplifting. However, other international students are being forced to return for much less serious offenses, such as making noise in their apartments during the middle of the night, or even simply using their mother tongue in speeches at their school’s entrance ceremony. Exactly which circumstances result in a student’s course being cut short are not always clear. One student is even said to have been sent back for being five minutes late, with a former staff member claiming that a strict stance is sometimes taken to send a warning to others. Although this kind of stern position might help ensure that other students stay in line, some school officials have spoken about their concern that international students are not being treated fairly.
When students are sent back, a few of the staff members will usually be responsible for packing up the individual’s belongings and clearing their apartment. But educational institutions are keen to maintain that the students are returning at their own free will and are not forced out. As such, the school staff remain careful not to raise the suspicion of the apartment owner or other residents while they prepare for the student’s departure. Another staff member will be in charge of preparing airline tickets and seeing the student off at the airport.
School executives maintain that students head home at their own volition and are not being forced back to their home countries. Meanwhile, schools have claimed that the reason they arrange for students to return immediately after an incident occurs is fear that they might go missing if the process is put off for a few days. This attitude is influenced by immigration authority’s regulations, which stipulate that a language school will be classified as “unsuitable” or unsatisfactory if more than 5% of their students go missing. If that increases to more than 20%, the school will be seen as a “problem,” which will make it harder for them to issue student visas.
The Fukuoka Immigration Office has recognized that there are serious issues in the management and running of some schools, but are yet to state whether or not these actions are in breach of students’ rights.
New Era of Immigration in Kyushu
The number of workers from abroad, including international students and technical interns in Japan, exceeded one million for the first time last year. This group of people form an indispensable component of the workforce, irrespective of the government’s position on immigration. Read more installments from this series here.