新型コロナウイルスによる留学中止によって損害を受けた留学生たちに救いの手を!

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(English below)

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私たちは今回の新型コロナウイルスによる留学中止を受けて、奨学金支給停止等による金銭面での多大な負担に対する支援を必要としています。

まず、今年留学中止を余儀なくされたことによる金銭的な被害について、私たちの例を2つお話しします。

①私は2月26日に渡航し、ワンルームのアパート(以下ワンルーム)を契約して様々な生活必需品や家電などを買い揃えていました。ところが大学が始まる直前の3月6日に突然の大学側からの一通のメールによって、わずか10日間の滞在で留学の中止を余儀なくされました。私自身、日本学生支援機構(JASSO)から留学奨学金を月々7万円受け取る予定でしたが、奨学金受給を停止されてしまったため、準備にかかった費用や渡航費などの急に発生した帰国費用に対して何の補償もない状態で1回も奨学金を受給することなく、半強制的に大学側からの強い要請によって帰国せざるを得なくなったのです。更に3/9から隔離政策が始まることから、それまでに帰ってくることを強く推奨されたため、契約していたワンルームに荷物を残したまま帰国いたしました。ワンルームは当初1年間の留学であったため、1年間の契約をしており、今回の私のように実際に住んでいなくても1年間は他の契約者が現れない限り、家賃と管理費を支払い続けることになります。私の留学先ではこれが一般的なルールであり、他国でもカナダなど、契約期間内での退去ではペナルティが課せられる等の例が多くあり、実際私のように家賃を払い続けなければならない留学生も少なくありません。

②私は私費留学で1月28日からフランスに滞在し、3月21日に欧州でのコロナウイルス蔓延による大学からの帰国命令に応じて帰国しました。半年間の予定であった留学生活が2ヶ月足らずで幕を閉じることになりましたが、既に支払っていた半期分の学費の返金は一切ありません。急な帰国命令が発令されたことによって受けた経済的打撃はそれだけにとどまらず、航空券の手配や半年間の生活を想定して購入した生活用品等の処分による実損。その他にも早急に退去することとなった住宅に関して、実際の退去日で契約を終了することは難しく、半月分以上の家賃を支払いました。また学内奨学金15万円の受給が決まっていましたが、緊急帰国後に留学取消願を提出した事で失権することになりました。また2週間の隔離要請及び帰宅手段が制限された地方学生たちがホテル費用等を負担した事も、予期せぬ金銭的支出の具体例として挙げられます。

このサイトchange.orgを通して、まだ現地に滞在している留学生への奨学金の受給継続や、緊急帰国し14日間の隔離を余儀なくされた留学生への補償は実現したことを伺いました。しかしながら、既に帰国していながら未だに留学に伴う経済的負担で生活が苦しくなり、今後の大学生活への見通しまでもが不透明になっている留学生に対する援助には手がつけられていません。そこでこのたび、署名活動させていただくことにいたしました。


現時点では、緊急帰国した留学生への奨学金が日本学生支援機構(JASSO)から打ち出されましたが、それは14日間の隔離を余儀なくされた留学生に対する措置に留まります。大学の要請に従って隔離対象の直前に帰国した留学生や、JASSOからの奨学金を受ける予定のなかった留学生に対しては支給されません。下記URL参照。

https://www.jasso.go.jp/ryugaku/study_a/202004shienkin.html

またたとえ帰国済みであっても、オンライン授業を受けている留学生には奨学金受給が継続されるとのことですが、私たちのように大学側から留学を強制的に中止され、現地大学に在籍する権利を奪われてしまった留学生は受給することができません。下記URL参照。

https://www.jasso.go.jp/news/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2020/03/31/200330_kaigaikyoutei.pdf


このような現状から今年留学中止を余儀なくされながら、様々な補償から漏れてしまっている私たち留学生に対して、下記2項目についての応援をいただきたく、この嘆願書をまとめさせていただきました。


①留学支援機構に対して既に帰国済みの留学生に対する奨学金支給基準を見直していただくために働きかけること

→すでに帰国している留学生も、まだ現地での家賃等の今後発生し続けていく出費があります。一方的に全ての奨学金受給予定者への支給を中止するのではなく、学生の状況を考慮したうえで、支給の基準を見直していただけるよう、留学支援機構に対して働きかけをしたいと考えています。ご賛同いただけるよう、お願い申し上げます。

②途中帰国または渡航の断念により、経済的な打撃を受けながら、留学への再挑戦を目指す学生に対する支援金支給をJASSOへ働きかけること

→私費留学生は奨学金の受給自体が難しい場合も多く、今回の途中帰国で受けた経済的打撃により、志半ばで留学自体を諦めなければならない学生が多いことが推測されます。学生たちが、今後留学に再挑戦するための支援金をJASSOへ働きかけるための賛同をいただきたいと考えています。

このたびの活動をきっかけに、留学中止となり目標を失った喪失感と悔しさを抱きながら、将来への不安と闘っている留学生がいることを多くの人に知っていただきたいです。留学は経済的に余裕のある家庭の子弟ばかりが行くわけではありません。幼いころから留学を志して長い間勉強とアルバイトを両立して、やっと留学の夢を叶えかかった留学生が、私たちを含めて大勢いると思います。将来の夢を叶えるために必死に努力して留学を掴み取ったにも関わらず、このような未曾有の事態で夢への一歩を奪われてしまったことが、無念でなりません。この気持ちを“無念”や“悔しい”という感情のままで絶対に終わらせたくありません。このままでは留学への再挑戦が叶わないばかりか、留学中止によって生じた損失で、現在の生活すら脅かされている留学生が存在することも事実です。一般論ですが留学生は勉学に対する高い志を持っており、将来日本の経済活動に貢献できる人材も少なくないと考えられます。そうした留学生達に対して経済的な援助が得られる道をつけ、再び国際的な見聞を広める機会づくりに向けて、応援してくださいますようよろしくお願い申し上げます。同じような境遇にある留学生の方はもちろん、この想いに共感していただける方は是非とも賛同をいただければ幸いです。


上智大学3年 藤沼 祐香      

学習院大学3年 舩越 桜

English version--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Following the suspension of our study abroad programme due to the coronavirus, we need support for the great financial burden that we have been left with following the sudden suspension.

First of all, we have written of two individual cases to show the extent of which some students have been impacted by having no other choice but to return home with very little notice.

(Student ①) I traveled on February 26, and contracted for a one-room apartment. And I had purchased all daily necessities. However, on March 6, just before university classes began, I received a sudden email from my university in Japan saying that I would have to return to Japan after only being in South Korea for as little as 10 days as they had canceled my study abroad program.
I myself was supposed to receive a scholarship of ¥70,000 (€600.14) from the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) monthly, but since the scholarship payment was suspended, I was unable to receive any payment and had no other choice but to pay for all the sudden costs such as expenses for preparation and travel. Moreover, I had to leave the apartment with some of my belongings remaining as the isolation policy was put into place on March 9, and the university strongly encouraged me to return by then.
At this time i am still having to pay for my apartment that I had made a one-year contract with even though I am no longer living there due to the unforeseen circumstances well out of my control. So long as no other contractor appears within the contracted year, I will still be charged rent and management fees.

A major concern that both me and many other students currently have is that there are many cases in which there are penalties imposed for moving out before the contracted period ends, and in fact they must continue to pay rent just like me.

(Student ②) I stayed in France from 28th of January at my own expense. I was then told to return to japan without any other alternative option due the rapid spread of the coronavirus. I returned to Japan on the 21st of March; my six month study abroad was cut short having only been allowed to stay for two months. I was awarded a scholarship of ¥150,000 (€1,284.15) and because of this promise, I then paid out of my own pocket for accommodation and house essentials in the confidence that I would be receiving my scholarship money in due course. Subsequently, due to the global pandemic I lost my scholarship because I was forced to leave study and due to this change in circumstance, the promise of scholarship has been unfairly taken away from me. Just because I am not currently 'studying abroad', does not mean I am not still 'studying'.

Furthermore, there is no refund of the half-years worth of tuition fees I have already paid in advance. The economic impact due to the sudden request to return back and losing the scholarship is not even the main issue, the real loss was having to pay out for the emergency and extortionate airline tickets and the disposal of household items purchased during their time in france with the belief that the aforementioned goods would last me the entire 6 month programme.

Furthermore, because I had to move out almost immediately it was incredibly challenging both legally and financially to terminate the contract. As a result, I paid more than half a month's rent to be allowed to terminate the rental agreement.

Even after arriving in Japan some students faced yet even more difficulties. Due to the restricted transport at the time some were unable to return home from the airport and had to pay out to stay in a hotel for around 2 weeks before they were able to return home.

 

 

Through this site, change.org, I heard that the scholarships for international students who are still staying in the country were continued, and that they were compensated for those who were forced to return to Japan and were forced to be isolated for 14 days. However, even though there are students who have already returned to Japan, the financial burden of studying abroad still makes their lives difficult, and even the prospects for future university life are unclear, they are not eligible for the scholarships. Therefore, we have decided to launch this campaign.

At this point, the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) has issued a scholarship for international students who have returned to Japan in an emergency, but it is only for international students who have been forced to quarantine for 14 days. It will not be provided to international students who have returned to Japan immediately before being quarantined as requested by their university, or for those who did not plan to receive a scholarship from JASSO. See the URL below.
https://www.jasso.go.jp/ryugaku/study_a/202004shienkin.html

Besides, even if you have returned to Japan, scholarships will continue to be accepted for international students who are taking online classes, but the students who forced to stop studying abroad at a local university and have been deprived of their right to enroll, will not be able to receive it. See the URL below.
https://www.jasso.go.jp/news/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2020/03/31/200330_kaigaikyoutei.pdf

We have put together this campaign for the support of the following two items to international students who have been forced to stop studying abroad this year, but are illegible for compensation.

① Encouraging the Study Abroad Support Organization to review the scholarship payment standards for international students who have already returned to Japan
→International students who have already returned to Japan will still have to pay expenses such as local rent. Rather than unilaterally discontinuing payment to all prospective scholarship recipients, we would like to encourage the Study Abroad Support Organization to review the payment criteria in consideration of the student situation. We would appreciate your support.

②Encouraging JASSO to provide support to students who are trying to study abroad again while suffering financial damage due to returning to the country or abandoning travel.
→In many cases, it is difficult for private-expense international students to receive scholarships themselves, and it is assumed that many students will have to give up studying abroad due to the financial impact brought upon them during this emergency. We would like to endorse JASSO to provide support funds for the challenge of studying abroad again.

I would like many people to know that there are lots of international students who are struggling with their anxiety at the thought of their future, feeling of loss and chagrin that they had lost site of their goals having their opportunity to study abroad being discontinued.

Studying abroad is not necessarily for people who have spare financial resources. I believe that there are many international students who have wished to study abroad from an early age and have been able to balance study and part-time work for a long time, and finally have fulfilled their dream of studying abroad.
It is extremely disappointing that despite the fact that we tried hard to make our dream come true, and seize the opportunity to study abroad, we were robbed of our important dream step in such an unprecedented situation.
We don't wish to end what was supposed to be such an incredible, once in a life time opportunity with this sense of defeat and feeling regretful.

Not only will it now be incredibly difficult to retake the challenge of studying abroad, but there are also students who have been left with hardships regarding both their financial and mental situations.

Generally speaking, international students are highly motivated to study, and we believe that there are many people who can contribute to Japan's economic activities in the future. We would like to ask for your support in paving the way for such international students to receive financial assistance and to create opportunities for spreading their international perspectives again.
We would be grateful if not only international students who are in similar circumstances but also those who share this feeling could sign this.

Fujinuma Yuka

Funakoshi Sakura