Pared down to basics, the idea behind colleges and universities is that an eager student can go there to pursue any field and gain the knowledge to go down any career path. That’s an idealistic spin on it, but higher education has offered courses in plenty of fields, even if it’s just to make a student well-rounded. But that might not last much longer, at least if Japanese officials have anything to say about it.

The current concern is that, under orders from the Japanese ministry of education, universities all over the country will stop giving much-needed support to the humanities and social sciences. The ministry has gone to great lengths to explain that such a drop isn’t going to happen; despite that, several of the nation’s schools have already started making slides toward a narrower focus. Lowered admissions and cut programs in the humanities are piling up, while greater support has gone toward the natural sciences — the very field that’s received support already.

Whether it’s within the country’s borders or beyond them, the slide toward “practical” subjects has drawn fire from plenty of academics. The idea is that the future will need more experts in science, technology, and the like, which to be fair is probably true; as others have argued, it shouldn’t come at the expense of the arts, culture, or understanding what breathes life into society. There’s no telling what will come of the motion, but one can hope losses aren’t incurred just for a few gains.

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