On June 1, 2023 (Thurs.), the Nippon Foundation (referred to as "Nippon Foundation" below) and DWANGO Co., Ltd. (referred to as "Dwango" below) held a press conference in the Tokyo metropolitan area to announce the establishment of a new online university based in a comprehensive alliance.
The Nippon Foundation has an impressive track record of providing support for the environment surrounding children. Dwango continues to provide diverse contents for online learning aimed at schools such as the N High School, which boasts some of the highest levels of student enrollment in Japan. These two giants decided to enter into an alliance under the belief that such a partnership would allow them to construct a new educational system to resolve issues facing education in Japan today. Children today face problems of educational disparity for a variety of reasons including financial struggles and regional issues. The two partners aim to resolve these problems through the establishment of this new university. The university name will be "ZEN University" (subject to change) (installation is still in the planning stage). The plan is to apply for installation in October 2023, and open the school in April 2025. The concept is a university that provides a large number of students with a high level education at a low tuition of 380,000 yen per year.
(*In order of presentation)
A kindred connection with the conviction that "Human resource development determines a nation's future"
Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of Nippon Foundation
We felt a kindred connection with Dwango, which has already actualized online education, and the conviction that "Human resource development determines a nation's future," and have decided to create a university as an extension of the high school journey. We are proceeding with preparations for the new university, harnessing the expertise of Dwango which is strong in the important future fields of IT and AI and the experience of the Nippon Foundation with our track record of maintaining a global university network and accumulating social experience including providing support for children and disaster volunteers.
Online universities contribute to resolving the issues of investment disparity and population outflow
Shinichi Yamanaka, Director of DWANGO Co., Ltd. and President of KADOKAWA DWANGO Educational Institute
The Japanese university enrollment rate is over 60%, but looking at individual regions, a disparity of over 30% also exists. Additionally, enrollment is dominated by high income households, and overwhelmingly at national public universities where the tuition burden is low, suggesting a disparity in investment towards education. There are also many regions facing the problem of population outflow that accompanies university enrollment. Our desire is for online universities to contribute to resolving these issues.
The potential to overcome disparity without giving up on higher education
Nobuo Kawakami, Advisor of DWANGO Co., Ltd. and Director of KADOKAWA DWANGO Educational Institute
We are proud to say that we have come to understand the features of the online environment better than anyone else over our eight years of operating N High School. An online university where students can receive high quality courses at low expenses and learn at their own pace at their choice of location and times contains the potential to overcome disparity without requiring students to give up on enrolling in university due to restrictions such as tuition, location, time, or numbers of students filling up enrollment availability.
Students can receive an inexpensive education regardless of household environment, barriers, gender, or region
Jumpei Sasakawa, Executive Director of Nippon Foundation
One cause of educational disparity is "household financial strength," and "free education" is being floated as a way of addressing lower birth rates, resulting in the education expense problem entering the spotlight. ZEN University (subject to change) (installation is still in the planning stage) respects individuality, and will provide an opportunity for students to receive education at low expenses regardless of household environment, barriers, gender, or region. The university plans to offer real and practical learning opportunities both in Japan and abroad, such as work experience opportunities.