Photo/IllutrationForeign students leave for home after taking a Japanese language class in Tokyo on Feb. 18. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Japanese language schools not making the grade under newly established criteria will be prohibited from accepting foreign students.

Updated criteria compiled April 17 by an education ministry expert panel require that "70 percent of foreign students who graduate from language schools can pass the daily conversation level of the Japanese language proficiency test."

The Justice Ministry, which has jurisdiction over such schools, will bar new foreign admissions at those that fail to meet the criteria for three consecutive years.

The ministry will revise the criteria after soliciting input from the public.

The expert panel set the Japanese language proficiency level using the “Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFR),” with six levels--A1 to C2--to determine language ability.

Under the CEFR, the new standard is that a minimum of 70 percent of students have achieved A2, the second lowest of six levels, which indicates that students can converse in basic Japanese.

Language schools with a rate lower than 70 percent for three consecutive years will be notified by the government to deal with the matter or they will be barred from accepting foreign students.

Newly opening Japanese language schools must already meet requirements on the number of classes offered per year. Also, if a school has not met criteria for student attendance and illegal overstay rates, they will be barred from accepting students from abroad.

Because no system is in place to monitor the situation, and with different education levels at the schools, instances have arisen of students enrolling at schools with the real intention of pursuing work opportunities, not studying.

The government will thus add the new criteria using a language test, as well as tighten the rates of attendance and illegal stays.