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Juntendo University treated female medical school applicants unfairly in entrance exams, says report by third-party panel

JIJI, Kyodo

Juntendo University treated applicants, mostly women, unfairly during its medical school’s entrance examinations during the 2017 and 2018 academic years, a report by a third-party committee confirmed Monday.

The committee, headed by lawyer Keisuke Yoshioka, said in its primary report that the university has “improperly treated (applicants) by abusing its discretionary power.”

According to the report, the unfair treatment started with the entrance exam for the year beginning April 2008 or before, and such acts were not considered problematic at the university.

The university explained to the committee that it raised the bar for women in entrance exams in order to “narrow the gap with male students” in interviews, in which women generally excelled over men in communication abilities.

Female applicants tend to be more mature than their male peers, and they generally scored higher in interviews, the university said.

It also said the limited capacity of a dormitory for all new female students was also behind unfair treatment of female applicants.

The committee found such discrimination against women to be lacking a sound basis, and the university has decided to abolish its unfair practice in entrance exams for the 2019 school year and beyond.

“I deeply apologize for causing great trouble and anxiety to examinees, guardians and other concerned people,” Juntendo University President Hajime Arai told a news conference the same day.

The university said it is willing to admit a total of 48 people who were rejected in the second-stage exams of essays and interviews due to the unfair practices during the past two years, and will ask whether those applicants still wish to enter the school. Of the 48, 47 are women.

It will also return fees for the first-stage exams to a total of 117 applicants who failed to pass due to unfair decisions.