June 11 (UPI) -- The Japanese government said Tuesday it's imposing new restrictions for foreign students, after it lost track of more than 1,600 who were in the country to study.
Japan's education ministry and immigration agency said they will stop approving any new applications from prospective research students, after it was discovered 1,610 skipped out of Tokyo University of Social Welfare. The action marks the first time the Japanese government has placed restrictions on foreign students.
A review of the private university's four campuses found they had accepted many students who did not demonstrate sufficient language skills or the ability to pay tuition. It also found the school was short on staff and failed to provide proper student support -- factors that may have played into their leaving.
Officials said all but about 500 of the lost students were enrolled in the preliminary program -- which is the level below undergraduate.
Education and immigration officials requested the university submit an improvement plan by the end of July, to show how it plans to better monitor students.
"The university bears a huge responsibility for the large number of missing students and illegal aliens," education minister Masahiko Shibayama told reporters.
Government officials said they're considering cutting subsidies to the school, and the immigration agency said it will reject visa applications for prospective students.
Yuriko Sato, an associate professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, said greater subsidies, not less, would help solve the problem -- as that would give students more time to study, as opposed to working jobs to pay for classes.