University professors accepted gift money for dissertation evaluations
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
2009/2/4Nearly 95 percent of professors at Tokyo Medical University who were involved in evaluating dissertations received gift money from staff members who received their medical doctorates, officials said.
Thirty-five of the 37 professors involved in the evaluations between fiscal 2005 and 2007 accepted the cash from 229 clinical staff members who earned their doctorates during that period, the officials said.
Sources said the going rate was about 100,000 yen for each professor, given nominally as a gift.
University officials denied the money influenced the outcome of the evaluation process. They stressed the payments were made after the evaluations were completed, and that they reported the matter to the education ministry last month.
Masahiko Usui, president of the private university in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward, apologized for the practice in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun.
"A bad custom was allowed to continue. We would like to reflect upon the matter," Usui said.
After a similar incident at Yokohama City University surfaced in March 2008, the ministry instructed universities nationwide to adopt stricter measures to ensure fair evaluation procedures.
The ministry criticized Tokyo Medical University of "possibly undermining the credibility of university degrees" and called on university officials to conduct additional investigations, saying previous checks were insufficient.
According to the university, an inside informant raised concerns about the practice to the ministry in May 2008. Following the leak, the university set up an investigative panel and checked whether professors received money or other gifts between fiscal 2005 and 2007.
The investigation was conducted using a questionnaire that did not require the subjects to identify themselves. Thirty-five professors and 229 clinical staff members who received their doctorates admitted to the exchanges of cash.
The money changed hands after the applicants were notified that they had earned their medical doctorates. Only about 10 clinical staff members who earned their doctorates had not provided gifts, the investigation found.
When asked by reporters, one clinical staff member admitted to directly handing 100,000 yen each to three professors involved in evaluating dissertations.
Another said, "I asked an older colleague how much they paid and took (the same amount) to the professor."
According to university rules, clinical staff members pay 20,000 yen to the university as a surcharge for requesting evaluations on their dissertations.
The university then pays 10,000 yen to the main professor in charge of the evaluation and 3,000 yen each to two professors who back up the evaluation.
However, according to one clinical staff member at the university, the practice of giving cash gifts "is de rigueur and everybody does it."
In recent cases involving medical doctorates, a former professor at Nagoya City University's graduate school was found guilty of accepting bribes. He had collected a total of 2.7 million yen from 13 researchers for leaking the contents of an oral examination in 2007.
In 2008, 22 professors and associate professors at Yokohama City University were accused of receiving a total of 5.78 million yen in gift money over a four-year period. Twenty were suspended from work or had their pay reduced.
According to the education ministry, professors at national and public universities are considered de facto civil servants and can be subject to bribe allegations if they accept gifts.
However, professors at private universities do not automatically face incrimination for such practices.(IHT/Asahi: February 4,2009)
しかし、昨年４月以降に東京医大で博士号を得た複数の医局員は、朝日新聞の取材に対し、学位論文を審査してもらった教授３人に１０万円ずつ現金を 贈ったことを認めた。ある医局員は「学位授与の連絡を受けた後、１０万円の入ったのし袋を、菓子箱と一緒に風呂敷で包んで教授に手渡した。教授は『おめで とう』と言って受け取った」などと話した。