Ex-chief of Tokyo Medical University admits to backdoor admissions to 'increase donations'

The entrance to the Tokyo Medical University is seen in Tokyo on August 8, 2018.

A former board chairman of Tokyo Medical University has admitted to padding certain students' scores on its general entrance exam, according to sources.

Masahiko Usui, 77, a former chairman of the university's board of regents, said during the school's internal investigation that he did so to "increase donations to the school."

In the examinations held this year and last year, Usui directed university staff to admit 19 students by adding points to their scores during the first stage of testing. Many of the students involved were apparently the children of alumni, and in some cases tens of millions of yen in donations were paid to the school.

The university reported the results of the investigation to the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry on Tuesday.

It had already been discovered that the university worked to cut the number of successful female applicants, and also tried to limit the entry of male examinees who had failed the test at least three times. The investigative report will include this matter and also cover the so-called backdoor admissions.

The university decided who passed based on the combined scores for the two stages: the computer-graded test in the first stage, and a short essay and interview in the second stage.

According to the sources, points ranging from 10 to dozens were added to the scores of six examinees this year after the first test, which had a maximum score of 400 points. The same practice was applied to 13 examinees last year.

One test taker who got extra points was the son of Futoshi Sano, 59, a former education ministry bureau chief who has been indicted for accepting bribes as part of a corruption scandal involving private university subsidies. But many others were the children of Tokyo Medical University alumni, according to the sources.

Usui reportedly told in-house investigators that he was seeking to "increase donations by having alumni's children pass the exam."

The amount of donated money was said to have varied depending on the points added, and money was paid from the successful students' families and others to the university in some cases, according to the source.

At least since around 2010, the university's alumni association is believed to have created a list of alumni's children who wanted to enroll in the university and then submitted the list to Usui. Backdoor admissions seem to have been conducted for years.

On this year's general entrance exam, the university curbed the number of successful applicants through a number of measures. It multiplied all examinees' actual scores by 0.8 on the second-stage short essay test to curve basic scores lower, and then added 20 points to the scores of male students who were taking the entrance exam for the first, second or third time.

Ten points were added to the scores of men on their fourth try, while no points were added to the scores of women, or to those of male students on their fifth try or more.

This manipulation also took place on last year's general entrance exam.