Tokyo medical school admits rigging exams to curb female enrolment

Tetsuo Yukioka managing director of Tokyo Medical University

Kyodo news reported Tuesday that female scores had been docked as early as 2006.

Such alterations "should never happen", added Prof Keisuke Miyazawa, vice president of the university, pledging next year's entrance exams would be fair without giving further details.

The scandal was uncovered by investigators looking into claims the university padded the scores of an education ministry bureaucrat's son to help him gain admission, and local media said other instances had been discovered where individual entrance test scores were revised upwards, suggesting favouritism. The findings released Tuesday by lawyers involved in the internal investigation confirm recent reports in Japanese media.

One of Japan's most prestigious medical training schools has admitted marking down female applicants' entrance exams to maintain a majority of men in each year.

The sources also said that there were examination invigilators at the university that used a specific manual to guide the process of manipulating students' points to control the enrollment process.

Men who took the exams several years after graduating from high school were also discriminated against because officials were concerned that older men would not be able to work long hours in the hospital, The Cut reports.

The investigation showed that the scores of men, including those reappearing after failing once or twice, were raised, while those of all women, and men who had failed the test at least three times, were not.

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It is understood the senior officials at Tokyo Medical University wanted to keep the number of women at about 30 per cent, so they altered the computerised marking system.

The university also disliked accepting male applicants who had failed a number of times because they also tend to fail the national exam for medical practitioners, which would bring down the university's ratio of successful applicants and hurt its reputation, according to the sources.

Medical school authorities have called a news conference for 5pm.

The lawyers said they did not know how many women had been affected. "Women often give up being a doctor once they are married and have children", an unnamed source said to AFP.

Entrance exam discrimination against women was "absolutely unacceptable", Education Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters last week.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made a priority of creating a society "where women can shine", but women in Japan still face an uphill battle in employment and face hurdles returning to work after childbirth, a factor behind a falling birthrate.

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