The University of Tokyo, aka Todai for short, on Sept. 25 decided on a policy of using results of privately administered English tests, which will be brought in as part of a new university admission exam system in January 2021, to select new students but not requiring applicants to submit results. The university said it made the decision in consideration of the gap in opportunities to sit for private tests arising from regional and financial reasons. The decision could affect the attitudes of other universities.
Todai will announce the decision on its official website on Sept. 26 and hold a press conference on Sept. 27. According to a source close to the university, a committee to examine ways to select new students on Sept. 25 discussed how to utilize private-sector English tests approved by the National Center for University Entrance Examinations.
As a result, the committee decided that applicants need to have at least “A2” level, the second lowest English proficiency level, given by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), a global standard which evaluates English proficiency in six levels. (The A2 level is on par with the pre-2 level on the Eiken Test in Practical English Proficiency.) But the university will not ask applicants to sit for private English tests. It will also allow high school teachers to prove applicants’ English proficiency equivalent to such levels provided by the private sector in academic records. According to the source, one in the meeting said “[using private English tests] could cause overheated preparations for private tests at high schools” and another pointed out that “it’s questionable whether results of different private tests can be fairly compared.”
In March this year, the Japan Association of National Universities unveiled guidelines on the use of the results of private English tests, stating that each university and each of its departments will choose either one or both of the following conditions to determine university admission: a prospective student would be required to meet a certain score on a private exam to qualify for applying to a national university, or the private exam score would be added to the scores from the current standardized English tests. The latest decision made by Todai seems to go against the guidelines.