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Regarding professor Takamitsu Sawa’s Nov. 19 article, “Make Japanese universities more or less like sumo world“: Sawa appears to want to introduce into Japanese universities a failed system of supervision that exists only in Britain and Australia for those working toward Ph.D.s in the social sciences and humanities.

In science or engineering, all over the world, it is a rule that a Ph.D. student should follow the “school of thought” of the supervising professsor and join his clan. The professor suggests a problem to be solved or a topic, and advises the student on the methods or equipment to be used. The duty of the student is to execute the instruction. In case a student is not doing well, the professor may ask another member of the clan to help him out. This way, a student normally completes a Ph.D. within four years.

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