National university students with high marks will be allowed to graduate in three years instead of four under the revised School Education Law, which cleared the Diet on Friday.

The Upper House approved bills related to the law at its plenary session, and the revisions will take effect April 1.

The revisions, among other things, allow national universities to let students graduate in three years if they meet strict academic standards.

They also require national universities to set up third-party advisory panels made up of local political and business leaders and other experts outside the schools to give advice and recommendations to university presidents.

In addition, universities will be called on to establish in-house councils under their presidents and deans that will have decision-making power on important issues regarding faculties, student enrollment and personnel matters.

The councils are designed to limit the influence of professorial boards, which have been widely criticized for having too much control over university management.

The revised law will also allow the establishment of business and other professional programs in national graduate schools, which are now restricted to research work.

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