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Editorial: Tokyo Medical Univ.'s poor governance behind rigged entrance exams

It is appalling that such massive blatant wrongdoing had been committed under the name of entrance examinations at Tokyo Medical University.

A group of lawyers appointed by the medical school announced the results of their investigation into the university's backdoor admission of some applicants. Their report confirmed that the university did accept the son of a former senior education ministry official as alleged by prosecutors, and manipulated the scores of some female applicants and male test-takers who had failed in at least four earlier attempts to enter the facility so that they would not pass the examination. Some children of alumni and people linked to the school were given favorable treatment.

In the second, essay part of the two-tier entrance exam, first-time male applicants or men in their second to fourth attempts were given 10 to 20 extra points, while women and applicants who had four or more failed tries were not given such padding.

Applicants linked to the school were given extra points in the first part of the test. Up to 49 points were added to the scores of six test-takers in this spring's exam.

Illogical reasons behind the school's action to turn down applicants included: women leave their jobs when they give birth or raise children and applicants with many failed attempts tend to have trouble in their academic performance. Meanwhile, alumni's children were accepted in a bid to collect more donations.

The university's former chairman of the board of regents and former president made the decisions to manipulate the scores. The two allegedly received money from some parents of children who were admitted through the backdoor. The malicious action committed in the entrance examination, the most important event for a university, is indicative of the pathology of the school's administration.

According to the lawyers' probe, score manipulations were carried out since 2006, and covered the entrance examination of applicants recommended by their educational institutions.

Why have such illicit actions been allowed to happen? Ineffective governance appears to be the reason.

Essentially, the chairman was supposed to be responsible for the management of the university, and the president had the responsibility and authority for the academic part of the facility including entrance examinations. Striking a balance between the two was the key to a proper school management. But the university's ex-chairman was a former president, and dominated both the academic and management portions of the school's administration.

The board of regents had a problem in allowing the former chairman and others to continue with their unruly actions. Thirteen of the 16 regents were graduates of or people linked to the university, and there was said to be an atmosphere blocking confrontation against top management.

These malfunctions inside the university permitted the illicit entrance examinations to happen again and again. The way the university was run was totally self-centered.

The lawyers said their investigation is over, but it did not reveal the full picture of the affair.

Applicants who were turned down through the university rigging the entrance examinations are now leading different lives. The school says it is considering accepting them, but the facility must do more to take full responsibility for the scandal.

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