Scandal Sparks 30% Applicant Drop, 800 Million Yen Loss Surpassing Nihon University Gains Popularity | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Scandal Sparks 30% Applicant Drop, 800 Million Yen Loss Surpassing Nihon University Gains Popularity

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The number of applicants to Nihon University plummeted. The decline was particularly large in the liberal arts departments, such as the Faculty of Law.

The entrance examination industry was shocked.

The number of applicants for this year’s university was almost finalized. Nihon University, the largest mammoth university in Japan with approximately 1.2 million OBs and 74,000 students, saw a nearly 30% drop in applicants. The number of applicants fell from 98,000 last year to 75,000, or 23,000 students.

University journalist Reiji Ishiwata could not hide his surprise.

“In recent years, Nihon University has experienced various troubles, but they didn’t have much impact on applicants. The year following the malicious tackle incident in the American football club in May ’18 saw a decrease of around 14,000 applicants, and the year following the arrest of the then chairman Hidetoshi Tanaka in November ’21 on suspicion of tax evasion and income concealment also saw a decrease of 4,000 applicants. These were transient issues within the sports clubs and university leadership, so for prospective students, it might have felt somewhat distant.

However, the marijuana incident involving American football club members that came to light in August last year is different in nature. The suspicion that the university concealed the problem, along with repeated criticisms among the executives, escalated the situation beyond a temporary scandal. The repeated coverage in the media until now has instilled a sense of distrust among prospective students, and it likely also tarnished the image of the university in the eyes of parents. The succession of scandals led to a decrease in applicants by nearly 30%.”

The departments hit particularly hard are those in the humanities. Departments such as the School of Commerce, the School of Economics, and the School of Law have seen decreases of around 40% compared to the previous year.

“If we assume an exam fee of 35,000 yen per attempt, the decrease of 23,000 applicants means a loss of approximately 800 million yen in revenue. Previously, Nihon University received the second-largest subsidy of around 9 billion yen from the Japan Private University Promotion and Mutual Aid Corporation nationwide, but it has not been disbursed since the fiscal year ’21.

Despite being said to have total assets of 780 billion yen, Nihon University has been considered secure even with a slight decrease in applicants. However, if this situation continues for several years like this year, without curbing the decline in popularity, it may lead to a crisis. Radical reforms, including the overhaul of top members such as the chairman, may be necessary.”

While Nihon University, once attracting over 100,000 applicants, is declining, there is a rival school that is advancing. One corner of “Nittō Komasen,” or Tokyo University of the East, stands out.

“Tokyo University of the East has increased its number of applicants by about 5,000, from approximately 86,000 last year to 91,000. Particularly popular are the departments in the humanities, such as the School of Law and the School of Economics, which saw a significant decrease in applicants at Nihon University. The establishment of new departments such as the School of Welfare and Social Design and the School of Health and Sports Sciences, as well as the relocation of the campus from the suburbs to the city center, seems to be well-received by prospective students.

On the other hand, Nihon University has not made any significant reforms in recent years. The campus gives the impression of being fragmented into separate departments. While ‘Nittō Komasen’ used to be synonymous with Nihon University at the top, the rankings have drastically changed, and the day when Tokyo University of the East surpasses Nihon University seems increasingly plausible” (Mr. Ishiwata).

Despite having a Crisis Management Department, Nihon University is struggling to overcome its difficulties. With a series of scandals damaging its brand, the trend of prospective students turning away is accelerating.

  • PHOTO Takamasa Yamazaki

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