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Entrance exam practices at 10 medical schools likely inappropriate: education ministry

The headquarters of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry is seen in this file photo taken in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on July 26, 2018. (Mainichi/Naoaki Hasegawa)

TOKYO -- Ten medical schools across Japan very likely use inappropriate entrance exam practices or score manipulation to discriminate against women and repeat applicants, the education ministry has concluded.

The ministry determined that four of the 10 institutions treated all female applicants unfairly.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry unveiled a report on its survey of 81 universities that have medical departments following revelations of Tokyo Medical University's discriminatory entrance exam practices.

In a written survey the ministry launched in August, 80 universities excluding Tokyo Medical University in the capital responded that they had never given any special treatment to certain applicants. However, a subsequent examination of relevant documents found that nine of these institutions were involved in apparently inappropriate practices.

The finding prompted the ministry to urge the 81 universities to disclose the details of their entrance exam practices on a voluntary basis. All of them had complied by Dec. 12.

The universities involved in allegedly inappropriate behavior either discriminated against female applicants by padding scores of male applicants, gave unfavorable treatment to repeat exam takers who had failed in previous years, or gave favorable treatment to certain applicants such as children of graduates or those from local communities.

The education ministry pointed out that four institutions -- Tokyo Medical University and Juntendo University in Tokyo, as well as Kitasato University and St. Marianna University School of Medicine in Kanagawa Prefecture south of Tokyo -- discriminated against female applicants. However, as St. Marianna University denied any discrimination, the education ministry only stated that the university was "very likely" involved in such practices and urged the institution to set up a third-party fact-finding panel.

Seven universities -- Showa University in Tokyo, Kanazawa Medical University in Ishikawa Prefecture on the Sea of Japan, and Fukuoka University in Fukuoka, southwestern Japan, as well as the four previously named universities -- discriminated against repeat applicants. Kobe University in the western Japan prefecture of Hyogo, Iwate Medical University in the northeastern Japan prefecture of Iwate, and Tokyo's Nihon University gave special treatment to children of graduates or local community members. It has been confirmed that at least some 300 applicants with passing exam scores were rejected by these institutions.

Besides such wrongdoing, the ministry pointed out that more than 10 institutions were involved in nine practices that could cause misunderstanding. These include compiling lists of applicants recommended by alumni associations or university executives, and entrance interview sheets stating that the applicants are children of graduates.

The ministry stopped short of naming institutions involved in these practices, and is set to conduct an additional survey to ascertain whether they affected admission decisions.

The ministry's Standards for Establishment of Universities stipulate that "the selection of entrants shall be made by a fair and adequate method." However, the standards do not provide specific instructions for how to manage entrance examinations.

Regarding entrance exam irregularities, the ministry states that giving different treatment to applicants based on attributes such as age or gender, or admitting certain applicants regardless of their exam scores, should be deemed inappropriate even if such practices are specified in their application guidelines.

(Japanese original by Takuya Izawa, City News Department)

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