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Unique reforms have been undertaken at seven public universities since they were turned into independent administrative entities, with a non-Japanese national appointed as president of Yokohama City University and student evaluation systems introduced at six schools, a recent education ministry survey shows.

Yokohama City University appointed Bruce Stronach, a U.S. citizen, as president, while Akita International University appointed Australian Gregory Clark as vice president, according the survey released Monday by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Those appointments became possible because the head of an independent administrative entity is now free from the Local Public Service Law, which requires a public university president to be a Japanese.

Yokohama City University also allows students to pay fees for some classes at convenience stores.

By turning public universities into independent administrative entities, the central and local governments are trying to make the schools less dependent on subsidies and more competitive against private universities.

Six of the seven universities, including Nagasaki Prefectural University, have introduced tenure systems, while another combination of six, including Iwate Prefectural University, allow students to evaluate teachers.