Students with outstanding talent in mathematics and physics equivalent to a high school graduate level or more will be allowed to skip their last year in high school to enter college at the age of 17, the Education Ministry said July 30.

To introduce the new system in the next school year, the ministry is to revise a School Education Law provision concerning university entrance qualifications. The ministry said it took the step in accordance with a proposal last month by the Central Education Council, an advisory panel to the education minister, and to respect individual students’ abilities.

Universities that will qualify to accept such students following the amendment need to have doctorate courses in mathematics or physics, officials said. According to the ministry, there are 33 universities that meet the requirement for mathematics, of which 13 are national schools, and 39 for physics, 16 of which are national.

Chiba University plans to allow potential early entrants to take its entrance exam as of next year. The amendment will give some flexibility to Japan’s education system, under which children must receive mandatory elementary school education for six years, mandatory junior high school education for three, and nonmandatory senior high school education for another three before entering a college or university.

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