Last year I read this news “Okinawa University offers fees waivers for foster care students” with a big joy.
Okinawa University exempts those in a foster care from paying its tuition for four years under these application requirements (quoted from the article): 1) To be in a foster care facility or foster home, 2) Recommendation from the head of the facility, 3) Have difficulty paying tuition fees, 4) Take the special admission examination for Okinawa University and 5) Recommendation from high school principal stating that they can maintain good results for the four years. The first group of students with this support will enroll the university in April 2014.
This is actually not the first movement of tuition fee waiver for those in a foster care facility/home. Yamaguchi University of Human Welfare and Culture (The name will be “Shiseikan University in April 2014) has offered two-year tuition fee waiver, and some universities have tuition waiver option for those who are in challenging circumstances as well. But Okinawa University’s decision is especially regarded as one of the major movements because the university exempts all the tuition fees as long as foster care students take 30 or more credits a year and have a GPA of 2.5 or above after the second year.
We have aimed to spread this considerate movement toward studying abroad as well so that we can reduce further educational disparities among young people. Foster care youngsters become lawfully independent from foster care at the age of 18 and it’s very challenging for them to make enough financial stock for higher education even if they are eager for it. That’s why among foster care students only one fifth pursues further formal education after high school compared to the national average. Few can possibly consider overseas education as their educational option even in this global era while many Japanese study in foreign countries and build their career life.
We have a long way to go to make an arrangement that foster care students can also have an option for study abroad. I hope our project Spirits United will progress inspired by Okinawa University and other considerate educational institutions.