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Japan: Ministry plans to use TOEFL on university exams

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry said it plans to utilize TOEFL and other English proficiency tests in its retooling of university entrance examinations as part of its university reform plan.

The ministry announced a plan to carry out university reforms, aiming to change the quality of university education and nurture globally competitive graduates for the nation’s sustainable development.

“We’ll strenuously work on university reforms that the public can fully appreciate,” Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Hirofumi Hirano said at a press conference after a Cabinet meeting.

The main pillars of the plan are: reform of state-run universities; reform of university entrance examinations; and education to nurture graduates who can cope with globalization, according to the ministry. The plan stipulates that the reform implementation period will be from 2012 through 2017.

The ministry will begin studies this year on what kind of institutions and systems the reforms would apply to. The ministry will carry out most of the envisaged reforms intensively in 2013 and 2014 and review the results of the reforms between 2015 and 2017.

For national university reform, the ministry will draw up a plan around summer 2013 to promote realignment of university departments to improve universities’ functions. It is hoped the realignment will enhance research capability to compete with universities around the world. In addition, the ministry will take measures to make state-run universities major control centers to reinvigorate regional communities.

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