Japan starts classes at Cyber University

Japan's first online university began classes this , offering degrees to older students in a country whose model of lifetime company jobs is changing, an AFP report said.

The AFP report said a total of 516 students are enrolled at Cyber University, which offers four years of online coursework leading to a degree.

The university held an entrance ceremony at the Fukuoka Dome, a roof-covered baseball stadium on the southwestern island of Kyushu, with 130 students showing up in person and others joining by their computers, the AFP report said.

The online university, ironically, is led by an expert on ancient Egypt, the report added.

The AFP report, quoting officials, said students take classes and submit papers to professors through computers connected by broadband communication networks. Students can receive a bachelor's degree after completing required courses.

Internet and telecom conglomerate Softbank owns a 71% stake in the university, which was approved in November as part of Japan's deregulation, the AFP report said.

Similar universities exist overseas. The University of Phoenix, founded in the early 1970s for non-traditional students, now has some 200,000 adults enrolled across North America, largely through online or evening courses, the report further said.