Go to contents

Dean’s Proposal for Regional Admissions System Only to Cause Controversy

Dean’s Proposal for Regional Admissions System Only to Cause Controversy

Posted July. 24, 2002 22:04,   


The newly appointed Dean of Seoul National University Chong Woon-chan, in the interview with the MBC’s News Desk, proposed a regional quota system based on the population of a student’s hometown in admission. His remark sparked a heated debate.

The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MEHRD) responded immediately and inquired into the background of Dean’s statement. The University itself issued a statement on 24th, “Our University has not reviewed or considered the system. It is purely a personal opinion of the Dean.”

▽ Content of Proposal and Explanation = Dean Chong, mentioning diversification of the admissions procedure, stated, “For example, out of 5,000 freshmen, 1000 will be admitted based on their SAT scores and another on their GPA and extracurricular activities. Thus, it is not unfair. Consequently, poor students can come to Seoul National University with good SAT scores or GPA, paving the way for rising up in the social status.”

He added, “Personally, I can think of assigning quotas to some provinces such as Choongnam, Choongbuk, Kangwon and Chunra Province. It may probably be applicable as of 2005.”

Seoul University issued a statement on July 24th, explaining “Dean just wanted to give more opportunities to students of poor backgrounds but of potential and persistence. But we have not and will not consider this option.”

▽ Response of Ministry = One official at the MEHRD expressed uncomfortableness saying, “I don’t understand why he triggered a matter of such delicacy right upon appointment.”

One official in charge of administrative matters regarding universities said, “Actually, there is no statute regulating the regional quota system. It’s like the case where the local universities requested for preferential quotas for excellent students of a particular region and their request is not acceptable due to its constitutionality”

He added, “The proposed quota system is not like the privileges given to students from low income families. It will be advantageous to students from rural schools, but disadvantageous to those from schools in big cities. It is a social problem.” The relevant educational regulations guarantee, based on each individual’s ability, the equal opportunity for education, and mandates fair competition in admission.

Another official responded skeptically to the possibility of implementation of the system saying, “Every change in admissions system is to be reviewed by the Admissions Board made up of individual colleges and approved by the meeting of college deans. Seoul National University is a symbol of its kind. I don’t think the system will be adopted there.”

▽ Response of Educators = They understand the idea behind the proposal, but make issue of the way the proposal was announced. The Dean of Admissions Affairs at Yensei University Kim Ha-soo said, “The regional quota system conveys significance for education purposes. But it also conveys numerous administrative and technical problems. Should we select students based on the population of their region, number of high schools in the region, their birthplaces, location of residences or what?”

The National Teachers’ Union spokesperson Lee Kyung-hee pointed out, “It seems to have come out of the concerns over the high rate of successful admission to Seoul University by students of wealthy families and students of families living around Seoul. But the admissions system is such a delicate matter as to need sufficient public discussion. But Dean Chong’s remark missed that component. And that is why his proposal is likely to be misunderstood.”

Korea Federation of Teachers’ Associations spokesman Hwang Suk-geun said, “The proposed system might strip some good students of opportunities and is regionally discriminative in nature.” Lee Soo-il, the superintendent of Seoul Oh-Kum High School, worried, “If we make haste in introducing this system which might favor some, but discriminate others based on their hometown, it may lead to a huge social problem.”