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Exam tampering exposes lack of governance at Tokyo medical school

The Yomiuri ShimbunOn the instructions of the university’s top management, illicit manipulation that has damaged trust in entrance exams was conducted over many years at Tokyo Medical University. Reforms are needed to stop such a heinous practice.

The findings from an internal inquiry commission consisting of lawyers have been made public regarding the illicit manipulation of entrance exam scores at the university’s School of Medicine. The manipulation was revealed as the prosecutors probed a corruption case involving subsidies for private universities from the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry.

It was discovered that the university gave extra points, up to a maximum of 49, in the preliminary segment (400 points maximum) of general entrance exams over the past two years, boosting the scores of a total of 19 test-takers whom the university had been requested to treat preferentially.

The manipulation of exam scores for the second-stage essay portion (100 points maximum) was even more pernicious. Regardless of whether the essay was written well or poorly, the university uniformly gave 20 points to male examinees taking the exam for the first, second or third time, and 10 points to men taking the exam for the fourth time. This arrangement made it extremely hard to pass for female examinees and for male test-takers who had failed at least four times.

Former Chairman of the Board of Regents Masahiko Usui and former President Mamoru Suzuki pooled the list of test-takers whose backdoor admission to the university had been requested, and they even received personal compensation when an examinee passed.

It is hard to believe that top executives of the university were using it for their own gain and reaped undue profits. It is reasonable for the commission to have concluded in its report that “it is akin to a suicidal act by a university.”

Environment for women key

It is highly likely that some test-takers actually achieved a passing score but failed to pass the exam because of the series of manipulations. The university, for its part, must sincerely implement relief measures, such as treating them as successful applicants.

Test scores have been altered since 2006. The commission said one incentive was to preferentially admit the children of the university’s alumni and collect a large amount of donations. The university may have its own financial motives, but it is unpardonable to conduct such a murky entrance exam that lacks accountability to the test-takers.

Senior university officials who were involved with the entrance exams said at a press conference that they “knew nothing at all” about the illicit manipulations. The Board of Regents, which is made up mostly of alumni from this university, has lacked the governance capacity, and was therefore unable to stop the former chairman and former president from continuing to conduct their illicit acts in secrecy.

The education ministry will conduct an emergency survey into whether entrance exams are being conducted fairly at the medical schools or departments of national, public and private universities in the country. It should make efforts to secure the trust of test-takers.

As a reason why female test-takers were treated unfairly, such realities of the medical world have been pointed out as female doctors being forced to leave their jobs for childbirth or childcare, and the fact that they tend to work in specific clinical departments, such as ophthalmology and dermatology.

Even though there is a situation in which a medical school wants to secure a certain number of male doctors to ensure the smooth management of a university hospital, given the fact that the number of female doctors is on the rise, arranging an environment conducive to female doctors working should be promoted.

Aiming to pursue a career in the field of medicine to protect people’s lives and their health — an entrance exam manipulation that would weaken such a desire among capable examinees must never be repeated.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 9, 2018) Speech



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