PIE News reports: One of Japan’s largest banks is gearing up to enter the student housing market by raising a ¥10bn ($91.8m) fund that will enable it to capitalise on a shortage of accommodation for the growing number of overseas students enrolling in Japanese higher education. The fund will make Mizuho Financial Group the first major bank to invest in the sector.
Spurred by growing demand, Mizuho has said it will put forward 15% of the equity for the fund, which, along with an additional ¥10bn in debt, it will use to construct university dormitories.
The remainder of the equity will come from both domestic and international private investors, including trading company Marubeni Corp and real estate firm Tokyo Tatemono Co.
The bank has approached 50 universities about providing accommodation for their international students in the last five months, and has “specific discussions” underway with around 10, according to Shu Takata, deputy general manager of Mizuho’s real estate finance department.
The bank aims to invest in three projects by the end of March 2018, rising to 10 over the following two years. The developments could include entirely new properties or renovations of existing ones, and each is expected to house around 300 students.
“Almost all universities are telling us they don’t have enough accommodation for international students,” Takata told Bloomberg.
The number of international students in Japan hit 239,287 last year and is continuing to grow, driven by government-backed initiatives such as the Top Global Universities project, as the country strives to reach its target of hosting 300,000 international students by 2020.
But in May 2016, less than a quarter of international students enrolled in Japanese higher education – 22.9% – lived in student residences provided by their universities or the public sector, according to figures from the Japan Student Services Organisation.