Photo/Illutration Osaka University’s Toyonaka campus, where 1,624 students were told at the last minute they could not take the Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students on Nov. 10. (Shinichiro Bando)

TOYONAKA, Osaka Prefecture--More than 1,500 foreign students couldn't take the exam to enter Japanese universities here this month because the organizer didn't bring enough question booklets.

A total of 2,469 students arrived at the venue in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, for the test on Nov. 10, but only the 845 lucky enough to snag a booklet were able to participate.

About 34,000 applied to sit the exam from in and outside Japan, which was held at venues around the country and overseas on the day.

The Tokyo-based Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), a government-affiliated entity responsible for administering the exam, plans to give a new test on Nov. 23.

But that won't solve the problem for many of the 1,624 students who were prevented from taking the test, known as the Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU).

At least one applicant is no longer in Japan. After coming all the way from Malaysia to take the test in Toyonaka, the only venue for taking the EJU in Osaka Prefecture, on the scheduled day, the student flew back home on Nov. 11.

Even if the exam is rescheduled, students may get stuck with some additional costs to make sure they travel there for it.

Some may not be able to reschedule as the new test date conflicts with exams at schools they are applying to.

JASSO officials realized only on the day of the exam that they had nowhere near enough question booklets for all the test-takers.

They delayed the 9:30 a.m. start of the exam and at around 11 a.m. decided to send the 1,624 students home.

JASSO said officials miscalculated the number of booklets needed at the Toyonaka venue and placed an order to a printing company based on the wrong number.

The day after the exam, JASSO, which is overseen by the education ministry, apologized on its website for causing applicants serious trouble.

But it did not elaborate on what went wrong, merely saying “trouble occurred in the course of preparing the test.” No news release regarding the incident was issued to the media.

In addition to Nov. 23, JASSO is considering holding the EJU on an extra date and will cover travel expenses of applicants who were shut out of the Nov. 10 exam.

Ninety-six international students studying at Osaka YMCA International College in Osaka and its affiliated schools were among those who were bumped from the test. The applicant from Malaysia graduated from this school.

For about 10 of them, the rescheduled test date coincides with the entrance exam of the university they are applying to, according to Osaka YMCA International College officials.

A 21-year-old Vietnamese student from the school said she couldn't believe JASSO wouldn't let her take the original test on Nov. 10.

She said she and other students waited for an hour and half in a classroom before being notified they couldn't sit the test. But no further explanation was given, she said.

The student is at a loss over what to do as she is already scheduled to take an entrance exam to a public-supported university she is applying to on Nov. 23. The university requires its applicants to take the EJU.

A 25-year-old South Korean student faces the same Catch-22, as he is supposed to take an entrance exam for a university in the Kansai region on Nov. 23.

“I worked hard to be fully prepared physically for the Nov. 10 exam as well as mentally,” he said. “Canceling it out of the blue makes it extremely difficult for me to stay motivated.”

Chifumi Kajita, who is the principal of Osaka YMCA International College, called on JASSO to do its best to correct the situation.

“This bungle should never have happened as the test could be life-changing for students,” she said. “Our students were shocked and the organization should exhaust all measures possible for redress.”

She and representatives of other Japanese language schools are set to urge JASSO to administer the test on a different day, in addition to Nov. 23.

Officials at the University of Marketing and Distribution Sciences in Kobe learned about the students being bumped from the test after several Japanese language schools inquired about the university’s Nov. 23 entrance exam for international students.

The university is considering measures to cope with the rescheduled test date.

Ryukoku University in Kyoto is weighing possible options to help foreign students who cannot take its entrance exam on Nov. 23.

For international students, the EJU is the equivalent of the standardized preliminary exams Japanese students have to take to apply to universities.

The results are used by 838 universities and vocational technical schools in Japan to evaluate whether applicants have adequate Japanese language ability and basic academic skills in fields such as science and math to study at their institutions.

The test is administered in June and November each year.

(This article was compiled from reports by Shinichiro Bando and Taro Tamaki.)