BANGOR — The University of Maine System is organizing an initiative to assist English-speaking Japanese university students whose educations have been interrupted by the recent earthquake and tsunami in that country, Chancellor Richard Pattenaude announced today.

The system is inviting students currently enrolled in a Japanese university that has suspended or terminated classes because of the disaster to enroll as visiting students in one of Maine’s seven universities for up to one year.

The application process will be streamlined and tuition will be reduced, Pattenaude said in a news release. The effort is being coordinated with assistance from Maine’s congressional delegation and Maine companies, organizations and families with ties to Japan.

Japanese students who enroll through this special initiative will be mentored through the system’s international student programs and by Japanese citizens and immigrants working and attending school within the system. Eleven Japanese students are currently enrolled in Maine universities.

“The devastation in northern Japan is beyond belief and, like people across the globe, our staff is trying to figure out what we can do,” Pattenaude said. “We realized that (this is) one area where we can offer assistance: by opening our doors to those students to help them continue their university education.”