At least 79,000 university senior students are believed to have intentionally stayed at school an extra year so they have a better chance of finding a job, a Yomiuri Shimbun survey has found.
Because the mass employment of new graduates by major corporations is still rooted in tradition, many senior students unsuccessful in finding work are repeating a year to engage in job hunting activities as "new grads."
The number of seniors scheduled to graduate next spring is about 568,000, with one out of seven students believed to be repeating their senior year. The situation is making current job hunting activities even more competitive than usual.
This is the first time a survey has provided proof that students are purposely repeating their final year for job hunting purposes.
Called the "The Power of Universities" survey, the Yomiuri Shimbun's research sampled 735 national, public and private four-year universities, excluding correspondence and special schools. The research began two years ago and is in its third year, with the focus on universities' efforts to improve student education.
This year's research centers on universities' efforts to support graduating students' job hunting activities. The survey asked about 50 questions, including the number of graduates and the number who got jobs. About 80 percent or 589 universities responded.
The research found the difference between the number of students scheduled to graduate and the number of those who actually did was about 79,000 for the 2009 academic year that ended in March 2010. Follow-up research on the gap was conducted among 20 major universities.
This subsequent research found these factors:
-- With the exception of repeating the senior year, legitimate reasons for explaining the gap, such as leaving university, study abroad or death were rarely seen among responses.
-- It is believed most of the repeating seniors decided to stay at universities due to their failure to find a satisfactory job or any job at all.
-- In cases of repeating the same academic year due to poor academic performance, numbers were concentrated up to the junior year and exceptional in the senior year.
The follow-up survey results demonstrate the possibility that almost all of the 79,000 senior students who repeated the year for job hunting purposes is very high.
Given the Yomiuri survey's response rate of 80 percent, it is possible the actual number of university seniors who delayed their graduation to boost their chances of finding a job may be about 100,000.
Every year the central government gives an estimation of actual employment figures for the latest graduates as of April 1. This year's placement rate was 91.8 percent.
However, this estimation is based on the number of graduates who wanted jobs and became successfully employed. It does not include those who have repeated their final year. Therefore, it was impossible to determine the numbers of previous repeating students.
According to the government's survey, about 31,000 university graduates were unsuccessful in finding a job this year. These jobless graduates, plus the 79,000 "hidden jobless graduates," add up to about 110,000 job seekers.
Some universities support repeating seniors by reducing tuition and other expenses. - The Yomiuri Shimbun/ANN