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Question on degree recognition in Japan


Jun 2, 2015
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Hi all

I would like to ask about the likelihood of successful job application based on degree qualifications in Japan in comparison to the situation in my country, Singapore.

This is how the descending scale of recognition in my country, goes: Currently there are 2 main most recognized local universities, followed by a third which offers a lesser gamut of courses compared to the other two although on the same level of recognition as the first two. Below them are two more public Design and technology universities but they rank lower, and there is some debate as to their relative recognition.

Below the public universities are the private ones that that import distance-learning courses from overseas. They are generally seen places for those who did not score well enough to enter the local universities, and are hence less recognized than the public ones.

There is also a warped perception from some employers regarding local employees who obtained their degrees overseas studying on-campus. There are some who recognize overseas universities more than local ones, while there are others who perceive them as inferior to the local universities as there is the mentality that they went primarily because their grades did not make the cut for local universities, even if they are seeking more preferred courses or mediums of study overseas (something that I, and some others, find flawed.)

There are also contrasting views between part- and full-time courses that may disadvantage students who study part-time. Those who were able to enter a local university are more inclined to feel full-time courses are of better quality and hence more recognized, while those who don’t tend to accept part-time courses, especially when there have been complaints that certain private institutions have been more profit-driven into lowering their entry requirements or making school a few-hours-a-day-affair lacking seriousness. There is also some acceptance from employers who understand that those who study part time concurrent to work due to personal finance reasons and thus do not exact their judgement on them, and evaluate them more on their work experience instead.

I am not sure of the extent of the discrimination but from what I hear, if the degree is seen as less recognized, it leads to an overall reduction in the chances of employment or lower starting pay compared to a more recognized one. There are also cases when the degree, even if relevant to the job applied, is not taken into consideration at all, and the pay is accorded to the next highest qualification, the diploma. This discrimination seems to apply mainly to the first few full time jobs (should they not have a uniform pay for all starting employees) but not so for subsequent ones.

It is a cause of worry and trouble here to quite a number of those who were only diploma-level-max and worked for several years and end up reaching constraints that make it hard for them to return to school.

In short, it appears that getting a local full-time degree is optimal and the most stable option when picking one’s choice of degree, though of course, not everyone has the privilege to do so.

I would like to ask if such a discrimination occurs for foreigners aiming to work in Japan when they present their qualifications, and this question is not directed at EFL jobs as I previously clarified that the EFL industry does not practice such discrimination. This is assuming that all other favorable factors (work experience, relevance of the degree and prior work experience to the job, JP proficiency etc) are constant.