kumamoto university
Kumamoto University, a Japanese national university in the Kumamoto prefecture, will pay master's student studying semiconductors, in hopes of supplying top-quality graduates to the growing local chip industry. Source: Yuichi Yamazaki/AFP

Kumamoto University, a Japanese national university in a prefecture located on the island of Kyūshū, announced that it would “hire” graduate students studying semiconductors to supply top-quality workers to the growing local chip industry. 

For the first time in Japan, students pursuing a master’s programme in the semiconductor field will receive wages. Students hired by the school operator will receive a salary, according to an announcement on Feb. 3 by Kumamoto University and Kumamoto Prefecture. 

The plan was approved under the Cabinet Office’s subsidy programme for local colleges and business creation.

With an allocated budget of 3.5 billion yen (approximately US$26 million at the time of writing), Kumamoto University plans to employ students as research assistants for 1,080 yen an hour or junior fellows for 2,000 to 3,000 yen an hour. 

This will provide annual salaries of 1.1 million to 1.2 million yen (approximately US$8,150 to US$8,900). Doctoral studies students will be eligible for an annual salary of two million yen, Asahi Shimbun reports.  

A total of more than 10 students every year are expected to receive salaried posts.

kumamoto university

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company is the world’s biggest maker of advanced computer chips. Source: Sam Yeh/AFP

More opportunities at Kumamoto University

As Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) plans to expand into Kumamoto Prefecture, governments, industry, and academia are developing a business strategy to strengthen the local semiconductor technology community.

A TSMC production facility is being built in Kikuyo, Kumamoto prefecture.

Chief Executive Officer C. C. Wei told nippon.com that he is willing to go along with plans for a second chip plant, in addition to the Kumamoto construction, if demand in Japan grows.

Last year, the institution announced in a press conference that it would offer courses specialising in semiconductors, Asahi Shimbun reports. 

“It is a once-in-a-century chance to establish a hub for semiconductor companies,” says Hisao Ogawa, the university’s president. 

“We plan to make use of this opportunity to contribute to chip development at an early stage.”

A new division tentatively called the School of Informatics, will have an enrollment capacity of 60. 

Students can enrol in the Data Science Semiconductor or Data Science General course. 

The Data Science Semiconductor course trains students in production efficiency and quality control of semiconductors and related products.

The Data Science General course will teach students to use data in other fields, such as economic policy and health care.

Kumamoto University also has plans to launch Japan’s first undergraduate course for semiconductors in April 2024, according to Asahi Shimbun