Education Minister Makiko Tanaka, who ignored the proper procedure, bears heavy responsibility for the recent confusion over the approval of the opening of three new universities. But apart from her problematic behavior, she has raised some valid points. It is high time that the education ministry made meaningful changes to the procedure for approving the opening of new universities and set down new standards for universities suitable to today’s situation.

On Nov. 1, an advisory body approved the opening of three universities — an art university in Akita, a women’s university in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, and a health science university in Sapporo — from April 2013 after examining their educational, financial and other qualifications for several months. But Ms. Tanaka the next day overturned the advisory body’s decision, saying that the quality of university education has declined as the number of universities has increased and that the current system of approving the opening of universities is flawed. She failed to mention what was particularly wrong with the body’s decision concerning the three universities.

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