National

More Japanese medical universities seen rigging entrance exams: education ministry report

Kyodo

More medical universities in Japan are likely to have manipulated entrance exam results against female applicants and favored particular individuals, the education ministry said in its midterm report Tuesday, without disclosing the names of the institutions.

The ministry has been probing 81 medical schools in Japan since Tokyo Medical University admitted in August it had deducted exam scores to curb female enrollment and avoid a shortage of doctors at its hospitals, on the grounds that female doctors tend to resign or take long leave after getting married or giving birth.

In its midterm report on the probe, the ministry gave four examples, including a similar bias against female applicants and applicants who have failed the exams many times in the past, as well as the padding of scores for applicants who are children of alumni.

Other misconduct includes boosting the scores of first-time exam takers and accepting applicants from a waiting-list in an order that wasn’t based on their scores.

“I find it deeply disappointing that applicants have been betrayed and social trust in universities has been undermined,” said education minister Masahiko Shibayama, while urging all universities nationwide to review their selection process before their entrance exams next year.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry did not disclose the names of the universities involved, saying it told the universities that it is important for them to make it public.

Last week, Showa University revealed it had padded scores for applicants, while Juntendo University also announced it will set up a panel to investigate allegations of bias against female prospective students.

The ministry report also listed other practices, including making applicants give their family members’ names, occupations and which schools they have graduated from, and asking applicants about their family and financial situation in detail.

The report said it should be deemed inappropriate to decide acceptance or rejection without rational grounds or prior explanations and to discriminate based on gender, age, and how many times prospective students have applied.

Among the 81 universities being probed, the ministry has conducted on-site surveys at 30, including those in which the pass rate of female applicants was notably lower than that of male applicants.

Last month, the ministry’s preliminary results of a survey, conducted following the Tokyo Medical University scandal, showed men passed entrance exams more than women at 78 percent of medical schools.

The ministry now plans to check the remaining 51 schools and compile a final report by the end of the year, it said.