The MEXT scholarship is one of the most popular scholarships for international students who are seeking for further studies in Japan. This article contains information about the MEXT Scholarship and pieces of advice from the current MEXT scholar, Arsen.

About the MEXT scholarship
The MEXT Scholarship is offered by “Monbukagakusho”, also known as the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of the Japanese Government (MEXT). There are several types of MEXT scholarships and all of them are grant-type, meaning that recipients have no responsibilities to pay back.

The case for today is mainly introducing the program for undergraduate students. However, you can find more details about the MEXT Scholarship from this SchooLynk article.
MEXT Scholarships 2019 | Introduction Guide 

MEXT for Undergraduate students

Here are some basic information about the required qualifications for this program:

Nationality: Applicants must have the nationality of a country that has diplomatic relations with Japan

Age: Students who are within 17-22 years old and have completed (or expecting to complete) 12 years of school education

How much: ¥117,000 per month (Additional stipend for designated area)

・A grantee who studies at a preparatory educational institution before enrolling in a university: 5 years (7 years: Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary, Pharmaceutical Sciences of 6-year system)
・A grantee who enroll in a university through direct placement: 4 years (6 years: Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary, Pharmaceutical Sciences of 6-year system)

Other rules: The recipients are not allowed to take another scholarship at the same time
For more information, see:
Guideline for Undergraduate Students 2020

Introduction about the recipient
Arsen, who came from Nepal, is now in his third year at Tokyo Institute of Technology, majoring in system and control engineering. In the interview, Arsen not only told us his personal experience of preparing for MEXT but also the way he uses the money after he became the recipient.

Figure 1. Sakura in Tokyo Institute of Technology. April 1, 2019

How did you know about the MEXT scholarship?
“I know this scholarship from my cousin. I actually went to university in Nepal, and I had no idea for Japan at that time. My cousin was in the same university as I am, both living in the dorm. One time we met, and he told me about the MEXT scholarship because he also had a friend in Japan with this scholarship.

I was interested and wanted to try. Also, it was near the application, only one month left. I knew I had to try.”

Preparation for the MEXT scholarship
The MEXT application usually starts in May, and it was April when Arsen received information about the scholarship. The test for MEXT is in July, and the result is two weeks after that. If you passed the test, there will also be an interview.

“The application documents were quite simple. You don’t have to get an additional certificate for language proficiency, meaning that tests like TOEIC and TOFEL are not necessary. The required document list was on the guideline and all the documents were easy to get, so there was no severe trouble for me.”

“My field of study was Natural Science, and I remember I took several tests including English, Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry. There is no Japanese test for the first test, so no need to worry if you know nothing about Japanese.”
How did you prepare for the test?
“I basically read high school textbooks and searched for old question papers. I think the tests were tricker than tests in high school. Not all of them are multiple-choice questions. I believe the test has a larger percentage of the whole grading, so I put most of my energy on preparing for this.”

“After passing the first test, there was the interview. The interview took about 20-30 minutes. I didn’t know what they were going to ask me, so as a matter of fact, I didn’t prepare for it a lot.

I remember the questions include things like…
‘Why do you want to learn in Japan?’
‘Your future plan’
‘What do you want to contribute back to Nepal after you take this scholarship?’
and so on.

I mentioned the technology of Japan is what I wanted to study, and I would like to bring back the knowledge back to Nepal.
Remember to show your ambition, confidence, and of course, good behavior and be polite.”

Figure 2. Campus of Tokyo Institute of Technology. April 1, 2019

After being accepted
“I quit my university in Nepal and started to learn Japanese. Every grantee will be enrolled at a preparatory educational institution, and I went to the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. They offered you a dorm as well, so there were no problems with accommodation.

You have to take another Japanese test after a one-year study in the preparatory educational institution. For me, I also had to take physics, chemistry and Mathematics tests.

If you pass the second test, there will be a consultation, for discussing your priorities of universities. I wanted to stay in Tokyo, so I chose the University of Tokyo as my first priority and Tokyo Institute of Technology as my second priority. Consequently, I went to the latter.”

The way you use this scholarship
“The amount of money depends on the places you are in. In my case, I get ¥120,000 per month. Now I live by myself in an apartment, and most of my money is used for house rent. My house rent comes to ¥50,000 per month.

Next, it is food. I spend about ¥40,000 for food per month. I don’t cook because the kitchen in my room is really small. I am pretty sure that cooking by yourself will be cheaper, so I would suggest every foreign student make sure to get a room with a bigger kitchen. For transportation, I use about ¥10,000. In fact, plus my entertainment fees, I currently use ¥150,000 per month.

Though you can’t apply for other scholarships at the same time, there is no regulation for students to have part-time jobs. Just like other foreign students in Japan, you can work under 28 hours per week. I go work and now I work as an engineer intern in a venture company.”

Figure 3. View near the campus of Tokyo Institute of Technology. April 1, 2019

Your feeling about the MEXT scholarship
“It’s a great scholarship and I have no complaints. MEXT scholarship enabled me to do my studies in Japan. For those who are trying to apply for MEXT, I will suggest to work hard on the tests. They are tricker than high school tests, so study hard. Also, I hope every foreign student can get their dream scholarship to achieve your goal.”