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International Perspectives on Higher Education Admission Policy

A Reader

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Edited By Virginia Stead

The promise of this admission policy reader arises from the embodiment of research from 58 authors, six continents, 20 time zones, 20+ first languages, and a broad array of research methodologies. Four sections aggregate key themes within the text:
(1) National Perspectives on Higher Education Admission Policy;
(2) Theoretical Approaches to Higher Education Admission Policy;
(3) Applicant Recruitment and Student Support Services in Higher Education; and
(4) Diversity and Equity in Higher Education Admission Policy Implementation.
This book's global chorus of professional experience, investigation, and insight is unprecedented in its breadth and depth, illuminating a rare swath of challenges and opportunities that Internet-sourced international higher education makes visible. Although each chapter is an independent research report, together they generate a new landscape for admission policy orientation, exploration, and activism. The sheer range of policies and organizational infrastructure will alert all readers to many complexities within the admissions process that remain invisible within single or multiple but similar cultural and political contexts.
Many of these authors have demonstrated courage along with their intellectual acumen in tackling politically sensitive, culturally taboo, and personally dangerous topics within their research. Theirs is a moving testimony to the global quest for fairness within the world of admission policy implementation and to the power of access to higher education. Together, we are determined to advance equitable admissions praxis within all institutions of higher learning and promising futures for all students.
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24 Rethinking Meritocracy in Japan: Diversification of University Entrance Procedures

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CHAPTER 24

Rethinking Meritocracy in Japan

Diversification of University Entrance Procedures

Guillaume Albert

Introduction

Exams have been a major aspect of the Japanese popular imagination since Meiji, nearly synonymous with social success. They epitomize the excesses of the world’s most advanced meritocracy. —Rohlen, 1983, p. 82

The Meiji period started in 1868 and ended in 1912. Although Thomas Rohlen made this observation in his 1983 book about Japanese high schools, it is hard to know if he was anticipating the radical changes that would occur several years later, by the beginning of the 1990s, triggered in part by the brutal end of the economic growth that Japan had enjoyed since the mid-1950s. The view that education is a social elevator is still preeminent and the equation between diploma and social success still holds. However the meritocratic ideal that supports the whole university entrance exam structure needs to be questioned with the diversification of university entrance procedures.

For a long time, the written test was the only acknowledged entrance exam in Japan, regardless of who the applicant was. However, the current system offers a variety of possibilities depending on the applicant’s background. This diversification is one of the numerous aspects of the neoliberal reforms suggested by the Ad-Hoc Council on Education (rinji kyouiku shingikai) in 1984 and implemented in Japanese higher education throughout the past 30 years (Okada, 2005). This development can be seen...

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