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Education Senmon Gakko – Japanese Vocational Education

Many countries have complex education systems, with types of schools ranging and varying depending on the goals and abilities of the student. Similarly, in Japan, there are multiple different types of schools and universities, for students looking for degrees, vocational qualifications, language ability, professional training, etc

One such type of school is the “senmon gakko”, or professional training college. In the Japanese educational system, a professional training college is positioned as “a higher education institution,” which is the same as a university or junior college.

A professional training college, or senmon gakko, has taken on an important role in vocational education, on the level of Japanese higher education. 

Some 7.7 million graduates have gone on to become active in a variety of ways. The title of “Diploma” is granted to students who have completed more than a two-year term of training (more than 1,700 school hours), and the title of “Advanced Diploma” to students who have completed more than a 3-year term of training (more than 3,400 school hours). People earning a “Diploma” are eligible to transfer to universities, and people with an “Advanced Diploma” are eligible to enter graduate schools.

A senmon gakko runs courses that last on average two to three years rather than the four years associated with standard Japanese universities. About a sixth of secondary school graduates go on to attend senmon gakko – it is definitely a large part of the Japanese education system.

A professional training college, or senmon gakko, has taken on an important role in vocational education, on the level of Japanese higher education. Some 7.7 million graduates have gone on to become active in a variety of ways

There are eight different fields of study available at senmon gakko: industry, agriculture, medical care, health, education and social welfare, business practices, apparel and homemaking, and culture and the liberal arts. 

These are obviously large parts of what makes up a society and therefore an integral to Japan and its social and cultural standing. Graduates from senmon gakko are viewed accordingly; the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) survey showed that about 80 per cent of senmon gakko graduates find jobs post-graduation. Senmon gakko is arguably quite similar to the vocational education and training system, which combines theoretical and practical teaching system that exists in Germany, Switzerland, Austria…

Financially, senmon gakko is not really any different to attending a standard university or college in Japan, bar the lesser amount of time it takes to complete the course and gain a qualification. It costs on average about 1.2 million yen (€10,300) a year to attend senmon gakko, about the same as the annual tuition fee of a private university. Again, there are scholarships to look out for, which can significantly reduce this cost.

There has reportedly been very high student satisfaction as well at senmon gakko in comparison with at regular universities and colleges in Japan, perhaps as a result of greater social and academic flexibility.

At the end of the day, it can be hard to imagine something like a senmon gakko if this system is not in place in your own country. However, there are many perks associated with senmon gakko, and particularly for those with vocational goals or who already have a profession in mind, it can almost be argued that senmon gakko is a fast track path to success.

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