LDP urges TOEFL scores as college entrance, graduation requirement


The Liberal Democratic Party’s panel on education reform will propose that universities set minimum TOEFL scores for both enrollment and graduation, sources said.

The proposal, to be included in the ruling party’s campaign pledges for the Upper House election in July, is apparently aimed at fostering graduates who can work in international environments, the sources said Saturday.

The TOEFL scores would vary by institution. But for around 30 universities officially designated as research facilities of an international standard, a score higher than 70 percent would be required to graduate, based on the panel’s recommendations.

The panel will also suggest introducing science and math to university entrance exams, even if applicants plan to major in the humanities.

Meanwhile, it may additionally recommend that the government invest ¥10 trillion in the education system to reform the way English, science, math and information and communication technology (ICT) are taught, under the slogan: “Realizing the world’s top level academic capability.”

The proposals are expected to be formally approved at an LDP meeting and submitted soon after to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who heads the party.

  • Raphaël Dubost

    Asking for TOEFL scores is a move in the right direction. However, the most important part is to reform the way Japanese students learn English! Make them practice more and let them make mistakes instead of focusing on the sole grammar, like the majority of the teachers do.
    But let’s be careful! The students might just end up paying even more money to private schools to improve their TOEFL score with textbooks instead of actually learning how to speak English. Let’s not forget that TOEFL is a standardized test.

    However, the idea of making science and maths mandatory for all entrance exams is a terrible idea! I am myself a law student, and I would probably not have made it to law school had it been for maths and science. Those disciplines, however important and necessary, are of no use in the legal studies. Is the Japanese government ready to loose students with great abilities in the humanities just because they are not good at maths or science? What good would those requirements be for students who intend to study political science, international relations, foreign languages, journalism, law…?

    One of the problem of the Japanese education system is that it tends to keep students from exploring their individual talent and creativity. This is a huge handicap in an age that values creativity and innovation. Making maths and science mandatory for everybody would keep students who are naturally good in the humanities from developing their personal skills. Hence, the universities would end up with hundreds or students with a low level in math and science (having no personal taste or talent for those matters), and these students with natural abilities in the humanities would be kept from joining the best universities where they could actually express their talent at a high level in the field they like and choose.
    Many students already feel like they don’t fit in high school, this reform would do nothing but deprive them of a future in which they could develop and perfect their skills.

    In the meantime, some of the best business schools in Europe are taking more and more students who graduated in the humanities (in high school and/or prep school) for some of their undergraduate and graduate programs (not in finance of course, but in fields like marketing, public relations, advertising,…). They do so by taking in account their personal skills, not by judging them according to standard examinations. The Liberal Democratic Party’s panel on education would be well advised to get inspiration from those experimentations instead of being stuck in the past and repeating the same mistakes.

    • How many of us have had students who had high TOEFL scores, but couldn’t communicate at all? What is the point of the test?