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[Editorial] Problem of insolvent private colleges must be rectified

[Editorial] Problem of insolvent private colleges must be rectified

Posted December. 28, 2000 19:26,   


A considerable number of the nation's private colleges are extremely inferior. The students in these schools are unable to get a proper education due to bad management by the schools' foundations as well as irregularities and poor facilities. This phenomenon is well manifested in a recent incident in which a court handed down a verdict ordering a school foundation to compensate for the losses of students who failed to receive a proper education due to the poor educational environment.

The Sunchon branch of the Kwangju District Court handed down a sentence that the school foundation of Hanryo College should give 3.5 to 5 million won in compensation to each of 24 graduates of the private college. The school was earlier ordered to close its doors in connection with the foundation's embezzlement of tuition money and had been under fire for poor school facilities.

The court verdict was significant in that it paved the way for students, whose rights to receive a proper education were infringed upon, to receive due compensation for their losses. In the United States, compensation is offered even in the event of a professor skipping his lectures.

The court ruling is likely to have a considerable impact on other private colleges that are under similar plights. In recent years, a number of small, insolvent colleges were established. There are a total of 142 four-year colleges or universities in the country and 28 of them were set up after 1996, when the regulation on establishing private higher educational institutions was removed. In fact, the decision on the free establishment of private colleges was based on political reasons rather than educational necessity. Hopefuls for the National Assembly or local councils were prone to making election pledges for the self-regulated establishment of colleges, and as a result, many such schools came into existence across the country. In some cases, the construction of the school buildings started without the funds for the project, and afterwards, the construction cost was paid with the tuition money collected from freshmen students. For this reason, these schools lacked libraries, experimental equipment and other required facilities for education.

These small schools could not establish viable administrative structures or secure competent manpower to properly operate the schools. Therefore, the schools were operated by the kin or intimates of the founder. In this process, the school funds were misappropriated or embezzled, causing feuds on the campuses or infringing upon the students' rights to learn.

Some school founders are known to have retained ownership of the school buildings, even after the closure of the schools due to insolvency. It is true that just as not all men are qualified to become educators, not all people are entitled to become founders of schools.

The Education Ministry must decide whether to permit the establishment of private colleges after correctly gauging the quality of their educational environments.

Once the schools are set up, strict supervision is needed to prevent them from becoming insolvent.