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Can anyone who applied for university recommendation (research) share their experience?

angelac

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Hi, I'm extremely interested in applying for MEXT (UTokyo or Kyoto) for research students but am unsure to go through embassy or university. Can people who applied for university recommendation share their experience? What were the procedures? Any advice? Is GPA very important? (I have a low GPA, but my undergraduate institute is relatively prestigious and is partner institutes with both University of Tokyo and Kyoto University, not sure if this counts as anything though)
Thanks in advance!
 

madphysicist

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Why not go through the university recommendation thread? Most of what's to be said is already there, and there are also some helpful links:
MEXT Scholarship through University Recommendation | Page 31 | Japan Forum

Do you already have a Japanese supervisor in mind who would be prepared to recommend you? If they recommend you strongly enough it might outweigh low grades. For the embassy I think it really depends which one you are applying to, so emailing your embassy and asking if they can give stats on what percentage of people get the scholarship would be a good start.
 

angelac

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Forgot to say, there is in fact a minimum grade requirement for university recommendation, see here for example:
http://www.ynu.ac.jp/english/international/accept/pdf/NJGS.pdf
I don't know what you mean by "low" but if you don't meet that minimum requirement then there's no point applying because your application will be simply be rejected.
Thank you so much for the reply! I checked out the website and is super helpful!

I've tried going through the thread but most of them are question and answer and a lot are unanswered, I was hoping for people to share their experiences! :p Unfortunately I have mostly Bs which I suppose means that I do not have the 2.3/3. Does embassy recommendation have a minimum GPA requirement? As my embassy is Hong Kong, only 3 people are actually given the research scholarship that's why I was wondering about the university route since my university is a 'partner institute!" I just realized that my university is holding a MEXT information session here in Canada next week, I'm hoping that I'll be able to ask some questions there as well!
 

madphysicist

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Thank you so much for the reply! I checked out the website and is super helpful!

I've tried going through the thread but most of them are question and answer and a lot are unanswered, I was hoping for people to share their experiences! :p Unfortunately I have mostly Bs which I suppose means that I do not have the 2.3/3. Does embassy recommendation have a minimum GPA requirement? As my embassy is Hong Kong, only 3 people are actually given the research scholarship that's why I was wondering about the university route since my university is a 'partner institute!" I just realized that my university is holding a MEXT information session here in Canada next week, I'm hoping that I'll be able to ask some questions there as well!
Do you have mostly B's on a system that goes A B C D Fail or a system that goes A B C Fail? If it's the first one you will have nearer to 3.0 on their GPA calculator. I'm not familiar with the Canadian grading system I'm afraid. But you should try calculating your own GPA to check whether you are actually eligible for the university recommendation in the first place. Here is a more detailed explanation of how to calculate it (near the bottom of the page):
University MEXT Scholarship Eligibility | TranSenz: Expat Living in Japan

I don't believe there is a minimum requirement for the embassy, or at least I could not find any. You can try emailing your embassy to ask this, especially if you are below the 2.3 limit on the MEXT scale. They do ask for your most recent transcript in addition to any graduation certificates, so if it's competitive (in HK it probably is!) your grades may be one of the first things they'll use to weed people out.
 

angelac

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Do you have mostly B's on a system that goes A B C D Fail or a system that goes A B C Fail? If it's the first one you will have nearer to 3.0 on their GPA calculator. I'm not familiar with the Canadian grading system I'm afraid. But you should try calculating your own GPA to check whether you are actually eligible for the university recommendation in the first place. Here is a more detailed explanation of how to calculate it (near the bottom of the page):
University MEXT Scholarship Eligibility | TranSenz: Expat Living in Japan

I don't believe there is a minimum requirement for the embassy, or at least I could not find any. You can try emailing your embassy to ask this, especially if you are below the 2.3 limit on the MEXT scale. They do ask for your most recent transcript in addition to any graduation certificates, so if it's competitive (in HK it probably is!) your grades may be one of the first things they'll use to weed people out.
Thank you soo much for the replies! It's been really really helpful for me. I've tried searching everywhere but GPA concerns showed up but was often unanswered or is controversial. Especially as HK only accepts 3 people for MEXT! My school grades on A B C D scale but I'm still not at the 2.3/3 limit on MEXT. Do you know how early I have to apply for university recommendation? I'm really hoping the MEXT information session for my school (McGill) can help me out with some unanswered question too.
 

angelac

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Do you have mostly B's on a system that goes A B C D Fail or a system that goes A B C Fail? If it's the first one you will have nearer to 3.0 on their GPA calculator. I'm not familiar with the Canadian grading system I'm afraid. But you should try calculating your own GPA to check whether you are actually eligible for the university recommendation in the first place. Here is a more detailed explanation of how to calculate it (near the bottom of the page):
University MEXT Scholarship Eligibility | TranSenz: Expat Living in Japan

I don't believe there is a minimum requirement for the embassy, or at least I could not find any. You can try emailing your embassy to ask this, especially if you are below the 2.3 limit on the MEXT scale. They do ask for your most recent transcript in addition to any graduation certificates, so if it's competitive (in HK it probably is!) your grades may be one of the first things they'll use to weed people out.
Actually!!! I just realized how a lot of places it says that they only look at last two years. and that for the 5 letter grading system (A B C D F) B is a 3 and C is a 2?! Is that true? My GPA is low mostly because I have a lot B- (2.7/4 GPA) and a mixture of C+/Cs (2.0-2.3), B (3.0) B+ (3.3). I'm wondering how does the MEXT count the - and the +? If it doesn't count that I do have above 2.3 over the last 2 years!
 

madphysicist

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Actually!!! I just realized how a lot of places it says that they only look at last two years. and that for the 5 letter grading system (A B C D F) B is a 3 and C is a 2?! Is that true? My GPA is low mostly because I have a lot B- (2.7/4 GPA) and a mixture of C+/Cs (2.0-2.3), B (3.0) B+ (3.3). I'm wondering how does the MEXT count the - and the +? If it doesn't count that I do have above 2.3 over the last 2 years!
That's right, if you have 5 grades available then B=3.0, C=2.0.
On that link I shared above it says + and - are ignored but that's not an "official" source so I can't say 100%.
Note that even if you have above 2.3 and are therefore eligible, it doesn't necessarily mean you have a great chance. You are applying for a full scholarship at two of the most competitive universities in Japan - you would expect high grades to be a requirement. If yours are relatively low you will need to work really hard on the rest of your application.

Buuut the next general university recommendation round will be around November-January (that is, when you have to submit the paperwork) so you will also have this coming semester's (/term's/trimester's) worth of grades when you're applying. The embassy application period will be starting in a few weeks so you can only submit the grades you will have in the next couple of months.

For Kyoto the deadline depends on the department I think, but it was around January this year. My potential supervisor said he could recommend me if I wanted but I couldn't get the paperwork together in time. Anyway there was only 1 spot available for the whole graduate school of science so I reckon my chances are better at the UK embassy. For your case I really don't know where you would have a better chance.

If Tokyo and Kyoto are partner universities of McGill, is there a possibility of you doing a graduate course at McGill with an exchange year in Japan or similar? That might also be an option worth exploring.
 

hojoojoh

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If Tokyo and Kyoto are partner universities of McGill, is there a possibility of you doing a graduate course at McGill with an exchange year in Japan or similar? That might also be an option worth exploring.
Would be harder to get into that programme than to sell yourself to the MEXT committee, imo.
 

angelac

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That's right, if you have 5 grades available then B=3.0, C=2.0.
On that link I shared above it says + and - are ignored but that's not an "official" source so I can't say 100%.
Note that even if you have above 2.3 and are therefore eligible, it doesn't necessarily mean you have a great chance. You are applying for a full scholarship at two of the most competitive universities in Japan - you would expect high grades to be a requirement. If yours are relatively low you will need to work really hard on the rest of your application.

Buuut the next general university recommendation round will be around November-January (that is, when you have to submit the paperwork) so you will also have this coming semester's (/term's/trimester's) worth of grades when you're applying. The embassy application period will be starting in a few weeks so you can only submit the grades you will have in the next couple of months.

For Kyoto the deadline depends on the department I think, but it was around January this year. My potential supervisor said he could recommend me if I wanted but I couldn't get the paperwork together in time. Anyway there was only 1 spot available for the whole graduate school of science so I reckon my chances are better at the UK embassy. For your case I really don't know where you would have a better chance.

If Tokyo and Kyoto are partner universities of McGill, is there a possibility of you doing a graduate course at McGill with an exchange year in Japan or similar? That might also be an option worth exploring.
Thank you so much. Your replies have been the most helpful for me. University recommendations are only for October entrances right? While Embassy can be for both April and October? I'm also a science major (life science, pharmacology) so it's likely that there's not a lot of spaces as well. The one thing that really concerns me is that if I fail to get the scholarship next year (university recommendation or embassy), can I still go as a self funded student?
 

angelac

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Would be harder to get into that programme than to sell yourself to the MEXT committee, imo.
I would think so too :(. Especially as graduate school in McGill won't really calculate my GPA based on the MEXT calculations (which is a lot more lenient)
 

madphysicist

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Would be harder to get into that programme than to sell yourself to the MEXT committee, imo.
Fair enough, I'm not familiar with the system in Canada or with McGill, but sometimes in Europe if you have a professor on your side who'll recommend you, you can get a good graduate position at the same university that you wouldn't have got coming from outside with similar grades. I'm just thinking that applying to the embassy in Hong Kong is probably also very tough so it could be one more option to try.

Thank you so much. Your replies have been the most helpful for me. University recommendations are only for October entrances right? While Embassy can be for both April and October? I'm also a science major (life science, pharmacology) so it's likely that there's not a lot of spaces as well. The one thing that really concerns me is that if I fail to get the scholarship next year (university recommendation or embassy), can I still go as a self funded student?
That's right about the entrance times, generally uni recommendation is only for October. I don't know if you want to apply for master's or PhD, but note that Todai requires GRE scores for its uni-recommended places, so you would need time to take it if you haven't already. Basically read this for their science school procedures:
Graduate Students — SCHOOL OF SCIENCE THE UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO

And for Kyoto read this:
京都大学理学研究科・理学部へ留学希望の皆様へ Admission Guide to Graduate School and Faculty of Science, Kyoto University

If you have further questions about the university recommendation process, there's a lot of detailed information at this guy's blog that you should read through:
Living in Japan: Government Obligations | TranSenz: Expat Living in Japan

Whereas if you decide to apply at the embassy, I have written down pretty much all the information I could find about embassy recommendation at my blog here (there are links to individual sources at the end):
MEXT research scholarship information and advice | ジョジーナ

If you want to go as a self-funded student I'm not as familiar with the procedure so I'd just say read the links for the graduate schools above.
 
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Lawrence1

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Hi, I'm extremely interested in applying for MEXT (UTokyo or Kyoto) for research students but am unsure to go through embassy or university. Can people who applied for university recommendation share their experience? What were the procedures? Any advice? Is GPA very important? (I have a low GPA, but my undergraduate institute is relatively prestigious and is partner institutes with both University of Tokyo and Kyoto University, not sure if this counts as anything though)
Thanks in advance!
Hi! Glad to see you wanting to apply for the university recommended scholarship for Utokyo. Basically, GPA is pretty important for university recommended, at least for Utokyo. Also university recommended really wants candidates that have prior research experience. Utokyo get a lot of applicants from all over the world with all these things and you really need to distinguish yourself. As far as i can see going to a prestigious school that is a partner university is fine. The issue really isn't whether they will accept you into the school but whether they will give you a scholarship. If you can pay for the school yourself and cover all living expenses on your own, you have a significantly higher chance than if you applied for a scholarship.

The embassy recommended scholarship might be easier since they have a specific quota of scholarships they have to give and this quota is narrowed to each country. I have heard of people who applied to the MEXT scholarship in their country and got in even with an average GPA and no research experience because they just did better on the embassy exams and the interviews.

BTW Utokyo has a self-supporting student application pretty late in the year after most people get results from the university recommended and embassy recommended. I only know this for engineering student applicants though. I am not sure if science applicants have a different timeline. But what I do know is that there is university-wide self-supporting research student position that will at least get you into the school to try again at a later term. For the self-supporting research student position, you only need to get accepted into a lab and be able to cover all the school and living expenses on your own. The benefit of this, is that you already in the school, in a lab, and can ask people about the entrance exam.

Do your best!!! And I hope to see you in Utokyo!
 
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