Source says score-rigging was born out of concern that many “female doctors quit their jobs after having children.”

Summer is traditionally a quiet time at most educational institutions, with the heat and mid-season break softly encouraging everyone to take things at a bit more leisurely pace. But this summer has been anything but tranquil at Tokyo Medical University, a private school located in the capital’s Shinjuku Ward.

Last month, the school’s president and the chairman of its board of regents stepped down as part of a scandal involving the school giving preferential admissions treatment to the son of a Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology official in exchange for continued funding through a program in which the Japanese government provides financial support for select private universities. The ensuing investigation has resulted in further allegation of wrongdoing, this time related to the scoring of female examines in Tokyo Medical University’s entrance exam.

According to a source involved with the alleged score-tampering, since 2010 Tokyo Medical University has been lowering the scores of female applicants across the board for its entrance exam, which consists of math, science, and English questions. The exact reduction varied from year to year, with those making the changes running a computer simulation to see how far down women’s scores should be adjusted in order to keep the eventual percentage of accepted students who were women at 30 percent or lower. In most years, women’s scores on the exam were reduced between 10 and 20 percent (applicants with passing scores on the exam then submit an essay and undergo an interview, after which the final decision to admit them or not is made by the school).

▼ Tokyo Medical University

The score-tampering is said to have been carried out for applicants to Tokyo Medical University’s Department of Medicine, which was founded in 1916. No accusations have yet surfaced regarding the university’ School of Nursing, which is started in 2013.

As to why the university was purposely knocking down women’s test scores, the source said:

“There are many cases of female doctors quitting their jobs due to childbirth and other reasons, so we felt it would be a problem if more than 30 percent of the successful applicants were women.”

The source did not elaborate on whether the expressed concern over female doctors quitting their jobs grew out of a fear that too many successful female applicants would one day leave Japan without a sufficient number of doctors, or simply leave the school with fewer eventual veteran providers who would boost the reputation of their alma mater.

Prior to the spring start of the Japanese academic year, this February 1,596 men and 1,018 women took Tokyo Medical University’s School of Medicine entrance exam, with 18.9 percent of the male applicants receiving passing scores compared to 14.5 percent of the women. Out of the total pool of applicants, 8.8 percent of the men were eventually admitted to the school for the 2018 school year, with the ratio for women being a much lower 2.9 percent.

Tokyo Medical University has launched an internal investigation into the matter, and is promising a statement on its progress next week.

Sources: Livedoor News/Yomiuri Online via Jin, Livedoor News/Nitele News 24, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Japan Times
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