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No Changes to University Admissions In Sight

Posted May. 06, 2005 23:23,   


It appears that the controversy over the changes to the university admissions system will stay for the time being as the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development reversed itself on its proposed changes. Currently, the authorities are on the alert because some high school freshmen are known to be preparing for a candlelight protest against the ministry’s decision to put more weight on grades in school starting with the 2008 school year.

In a statement and policy briefing on May 6, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Kim Jin-pyo said, “The new system is an alternative adopted after two years of discussion among social science experts. It is working well at schools. We will try to present and implement ways of reducing anxiety over and stress from exams. To do that, we will consult with universities to announce 2008 admission plans earlier by the end of June.”

Deputy Prime Minister Kim affirmed, “So far, people’s confidence in academic records at schools has been undermined with all the scandals, including inflated grades. That made it harder to devise more varied methods of selecting students for universities. If there is a better option, we would prefer that. But, at the moment, we won’t [change the admissions system].”

The Education Ministry has opted for indirect elections instead of direct ones to choose presidents of national universities on grounds that direct elections could serve as a divisive issue to the faculty. Presidents of national universities will be elected by a committee to recommend presidential candidates, which will comprise of outsiders as well as faculty members.

In addition, national universities will introduce a new accounting system for universities, which combines national treasury accounting and school fund accounting. The institutions that are capable of managing themselves will be allowed to turn themselves into corporations with autonomy over budget execution and other matters.

In addition, the Education Ministry will merge world history and Korean history into a single subject, “history,” for middle and high school students in order to respond to the history whitewashing by China and Japan and improve the level of history education. The new subject will be taught starting in 2010.

Meanwhile, the ministry cannot let down its guard when the group “Youth Solidarity for Hope in the 21st Century” and some high school freshmen plan to hold a memorial service for the students who committed suicide and a protest against “grades being factored into university admissions,” respectively, around Gwanghwamun in Seoul on the afternoon of May 7.

In-Chul Lee inchul@donga.com