The number of university students has dropped for the first time in six years, while the number of elementary school children, which has been declining for the last 10 years, dipped below 3 million for the first time.
Ten years since the elementary schoolchildren started dwindling due to the low birthrate, it is now beginning to affect the number of university students.
According to the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology, a total of 3.73 million students are enrolled in two-year colleges and four-year universities, 0.2 percent or 6,094 fewer than last year.
The figure hit 3.55 million in 2006 and steadily increased to 3.74 million by 2011.
The number of schoolchildren continues on a downward trend in all primary and secondary schools. This year, 2.95 million children are enrolled in elementary school, 180,000 or 5.8 percent fewer than last year.
According to ministry projections, the number of places available in colleges and universities, currently at 560,000, will outstrip demand by 2017.
The trend will bring dramatic changes to university education and the job market. In four years' time, a greater number of colleges and universities will fail to fill the number of available places, leading to the closure of some struggling for-profit universities.
Even this year, 30 percent of four-year universities or 73 out of 252 were unable to fill in the places completely.