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Private English tests unnecessary for admission to University of Tokyo

University of Tokyo Executive Vice President Hiroo Fukuda, left, speaks on the school's policy on privately run English exam results for admissions, at the University of Tokyo's Hongo Campus in the capital's Bunkyo Ward, on Sept. 27, 2018. (Mainichi/Sooryeon Kim)

TOKYO -- The University of Tokyo announced on Sept. 27 that it will not require applicants to submit grades from privately run English tests -- a part of the new standardized university admission exam system to be introduced in the 2020 academic year.

The prestigious institution's Executive Vice President Hiroo Fukuda pointed out, "Regional and economic disparities can impact (students') opportunity to take the exams, and this problem still exists with the use of privately run tests."

The Japan Association of National Universities (JANU) has already set guidelines requiring all test takers to sit both privately run exams and traditional mark sheet-style tests. Meanwhile, the University of Tokyo decision is expected to have a major influence on other schools' policies on the issue.

Fukuda explained that University of Tokyo admissions will require applicants to have at least A2-level English skills, the second-lowest level on the six-grade Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale. Admissions hopefuls will be able to prove their English ability by submitting either a private test score or with an affidavit from their high school declaring the student has at least an A2 level. If the applicant has neither document, a statement on why may be submitted in their stead.

The school has not yet decided on its entrance exam format for academic 2021 and after.

According to Fukuda, the university decided to add the affidavit option "as a safety net for the university to select (new students), in case there's a problem with the privately run tests."

JANU planning manager Masao Hatori commented, "JANU guidelines have no binding authority, so we can't force (universities to) use them."

Taizo Yamada, director of the Office for University Entrance Examinations at the education ministry commented, "It's up to the universities to decide if they want to use privately run tests. The ministry does not require use of the new standardized university admission exam system, but seeks evaluations of the four (language) skills: reading, listening, writing, and speaking."

(Japanese original by Sooryeon Kim and Takuya Izawa, City News Department)

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