Chiba University of Science in Choshi City, Chiba Prefecture, has requested to transition to a public university, but Choshi City has postponed the transition process, citing that discussions have not yet been completed regarding how the university should be managed. I made it clear that.

Chiba University of Science was established in 2004 by Kake Gakuen, an educational corporation headquartered in Okayama Prefecture, following an invitation from the city.

However, the school remained under capacity for a long time, and in October of last year, the school submitted a request to the city asking for the university to become a public university in order to "keep it afloat."

Choshi City has enacted an ordinance stipulating the establishment of a committee to conduct deliberations by experts, and has said it will hold a committee meeting this month, but Mayor Shinichi Koshikawa said at a press conference on the 30th that It has been announced that the event has been postponed.

Regarding the reason, Mayor Koshikawa said, ``Before any consideration, it is necessary to establish an understanding of how the city and the educational corporation will be involved in the management of the university, but I believe that discussions have been completed on the basic aspects of the management. "I haven't."

He then stated, ``The school is requesting a transition from 2025, but we would like to proceed with the discussion carefully, rather than just moving forward,'' and stated that they would like to continue discussions and see if the committee can hold a meeting in the future. I did.

About the background of the invitation to Chiba University of Science

Chiba University of Science is a private university established in 2004 by Choshi City, which invited the educational corporation Kake Gakuen.

Establishing a university was a long-awaited desire of the local community, which was faced with the problem of an outflow of young people as they entered university.

Against this backdrop, in the 2002 mayoral election, a former government official who had served as a visiting professor at a university run by Kake Gakuen ran for office and was elected on the promise of attracting universities to the city.

Then, eight months after the election, an agreement was signed between the city and the school in order to increase the population with students and teachers, leading to improvements in local education and culture, and the city would pay for the construction costs of the campus. The plan included paying a portion of the cost and lending the land free of charge.

At the time, the university had the nation's first ``Department of Crisis Management,'' which trained crisis management experts, and was expected to become a driving force for regional revitalization.

This time, a person involved in attracting a university at the time spoke on condition of anonymity, saying, ``As the population continues to decline and the local economy is in decline, we believe that attracting a university is a drastic countermeasure, and we believe that attracting a university will be a drastic measure against the backdrop of the declining population and the deterioration of the local economy. "We promoted it as a way to attract new industries to replace it," he said.

On the other hand, regarding the large financial burden that the city incurred in attracting the city, he said, ``If the university survives for a long time, it is calculated that the burden can be recouped in about 30 years through increased tax revenue. I have no doubt that I have made a contribution."

Choshi City invested a large amount of public funds in attracting the city.

Choshi City invested a large amount of public funds in attracting Chiba University of Science.

In 2003, the city signed an agreement with the school in which it would pay 9.215 billion yen as part of the construction costs for the campus and lend approximately 10 hectares of city-owned land free of charge.

However, the following year, the city council pointed out the magnitude of the financial burden, and the city requested the school to reduce the amount, resulting in the city's burden ultimately reaching 7.75 billion yen.

The city covered approximately 7 billion yen of this amount by issuing local bonds, but plans to continue repaying the amount, including interest, amounting to 400 million yen every year until next year, 20 years from now.

On the other hand, for the approximately 800 million yen that could not be accepted for reduction, instead of the city spending it from its general revenue at the time, the school said, ``We will positively consider constructing a facility that will contribute to the improvement of education and culture in Choshi City.'' However, the facility has not yet been constructed.

In addition, when a new faculty of nursing was established in response to the city's request in 2014, Chiba Prefecture provided the school with over 400 million yen to assist with facility maintenance costs.

Choshi City has the highest ``real debt service ratio,'' which indicates how much debt repayments are a burden, among the municipalities in Chiba Prefecture, and is in a difficult financial situation.

Regarding the large amount of public funds that have been invested, Mayor Shinichi Koshikawa said, ``Since the city has shouldered a large financial burden, I would like to see the school corporation strengthen its cooperation with the local community to increase the effectiveness of the attraction. I want them to continue doing that.''

The economic effect on the region is about one-third of the expected amount.

In attracting Chiba University of Science, the city argued that it would bring great benefits to the local economy.

First, it is estimated that the population will increase by about 2,600 people as students and teachers move in.

The economic impact on the region due to increased consumption was expected to be approximately 6.9 billion yen each year.

However, the actual number of students has been below the capacity since 2009, and the population growth is estimated to be only 1,880 as of 2017.

The economic impact on the region was estimated to be 2,282.3 million yen per year, about one-third of the expected amount.

As of 2017, the city has not released estimates of the economic effects of establishing a university.

Choshi City Mayor Shinichi Koshikawa said, ``We have some regrets and must examine whether the estimates of economic and fiscal effects that the city initially presented were really correct numbers. "It should be," he said.

Transition to public universities may impose a heavy financial burden on local governments

Due to the declining birthrate, many private universities in various regions are facing financial difficulties.

According to a survey by the Japan Private School Promotion and Mutual Aid Corporation, as of May last year, of the approximately 600 private universities nationwide, 320 universities, more than half, were under capacity.

Under these circumstances, the number of universities wishing to transfer to public universities has increased, and since 2009 there have been 12 universities, including Asahikawa University in Hokkaido and Tokuyama University in Yamaguchi Prefecture last year.

While the transition to public universities has increased the number of applicants for some universities, it may also place a heavy financial burden on local governments in the future.

Akiko Morozumi, a professor at the University of Tokyo's graduate school who is an expert on university management, said, ``Transitioning to a public university may improve the fiscal situation by receiving local allocation tax from the national government, but it also means that local governments will have to bear the burden of rebuilding facilities.'' "This will be a financial disadvantage. We need to go beyond the framework of national and public schools and discuss the future of universities, including the national and local governments."

What was the reaction of the people of Choshi City?

A company employee in his 60s who lives in Choshi City said, ``The university was originally forcibly attracted by the city, and I have doubts about converting it to a public university after investing a large amount of public money.'' I wonder if they can even take on the management of a public university even though the finances themselves are so tight."

A company employee in his 20s who works at a business in the city said, ``I think that in order to revitalize Choshi City with the power of young people, we have no choice but to transition to a public university.We have already spent public money to attract the city, and we have already invested a lot of public money into attracting it, and we are looking forward to becoming a public university again.'' It's difficult to invest money into this, but I think it's necessary to preserve the university."

A fourth-year student at the Faculty of Nursing at Chiba University of Science said, ``I came from Yamagata Prefecture with the aim of becoming a nurse.The students under me are also below the quota, but tuition fees are a big factor for students when choosing a university. That's the point. Chiba University of Science is a private university and the tuition fees are high, so if it became a public university and the tuition fees were lower, I think more students would want to attend."