Korean J Med Educ.  2020 Sep;32(3):243-256. 10.3946/kjme.2020.169.

Admission policies and methods at crossroads: a review of medical school admission policies and methods in seven Asian countries

  • 1Department of Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia
  • 2Department of Medical Education, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • 3Department of Medical Education, Changhua Christian Hospital, Changhua, Taiwan
  • 4School of Medicine of Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
  • 5National Taiwan University College of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 6College of Medicine, I-Shou University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
  • 7International Medical University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • 8Center for Medical Education, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan
  • 9Center for Medical Education, National University of Singapore, Singapore
  • 10Department of Physiology, Manila Central University College of Medicine, Caloocan City, Philippines
  • 11Department of Anesthesiology, Manila Central University College of Medicine, Caloocan City, Philippines


Selecting the right applicants is an important part of medical student admission. While one universally accepted selection criterion is academic capacity, there are other criteria such as communication skills and local criteria (e.g., socio-cultural values) that are no less important. This article reviews the policies and methods of selection to medical schools in seven countries with varying socio-economic conditions and healthcare systems. Senior academics involved in medical education in Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan completed a pre-agreed pro-forma per each country to describe the country’s admission policies and methods. The details were then compared and contrasted. This review identifies tension between many of the policies and methods used in medical school admissions, such as between the need to assess non-cognitive abilities and widen access, and between the need for more medical professionals and the requirement to set high entry standards. Finding the right balance requires careful consideration of all variables, including the country’s human resource needs; socio-economic status; graduates’ expected competencies; and the school’s vision, mission, and availability of resources.


Student selection; Medical students; Asians
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