Sunday, November 18News That Matters

Showa medical school admits to unfair practices for applicants


Showa University in Tokyo apologized for accepting unqualified relatives of alumni into its medical school and stacking the odds against applicants who had previously failed the entrance exam twice or more.

The university said at a news conference on Oct. 15 that it will set up a third-party committee to examine the matter and consider ways to deal with applicants who were put at a disadvantage.

The education ministry has been investigating the entrance examination process at 81 universities in Japan since Tokyo Medical University was found to have rigged scores to admit more male applicants.

Heeding education minister Masahiko Shibayama’s call, Showa University is the second school to voluntarily admit to dubious screening processes.

Showa University President Ryohei Koide and Yoshio Ogawa, the medical school chief, said at the news conference that unfair procedures were conducted at two stages in the admission system.

Applicants who pass the first written test are judged on interviews, essays and reports from their high schools. A perfect score is 80, and the annual enrollment limit is 78.

Ogawa said that since fiscal 2013, 10 points were added to the scores of examinees still in high school, but those who had previously failed the exam once were given five points.

Those who had failed twice or more received zero points.

“Students who can enroll straight into university without failing tend to develop skills more quickly,” he said. “We didn’t think this is a wrongful thing.”

He also referred to the pass rate of the national examination for medical practitioners to back up his argument.

“Those students tend to become more competent not only in their study abilities but also as medical students,” Ogawa said.

He said the act of giving them 10 or five points was like “adding scores for their futures,” including the national exam for medical practitioners.

For the general exam held later in the application schedule, the medical school accepts 20 people every year.

Nineteen people over the past six years, including four in fiscal 2018, gained enrollment despite posting examination scores that should have disqualified them. Those 19 “successful” applicants were all relatives of Showa University alumni.

The additional points given at the second stage and the priority given to alumni’s relatives were not mentioned in the guidelines for applicants.

According to the education ministry’s investigation results released in September, Showa University’s passing rate of male applicants was 1.54 times higher than the rate for female applicants on average for the past six years. That gap was the second highest among 81 universities.

Ogawa said the school does not discriminate against female applicants, and that the rate was simply the result of the examinations.

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