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Government, SNU Clash Over 2008 Admissions Policy

Posted July. 08, 2005 05:19,   


In response to Seoul National University’s (SNU) announcement on its new policy for 2008 admissions that puts the greatest emphasis on analytical writing, President Roh Moo-hyun urged the school to be cooperative with the government’s efforts to normalize public education.

However, Chung Un-chan, president of the SNU, stressed that his original position hasn’t changed at all. Other professors of the SNU are also complaining that the government excessively intervenes in the school’s policy. This standoff is attracting a great deal of attention from the public.

President Roh said yesterday at a meeting with managing editors and newsroom directors of major newspapers, “We can’t let a handful of schools monopolize the most qualified students because this may jeopardize the entire public education for high school students. This is the government’s stern position,” adding, “A line should be drawn in the autonomy of universities and, given the significance of the university admissions system to society, schools should yield to government policy direction.”

President Roh also said, “Rather than inviting one qualified student out of 1,000 ordinary students, the school should pick up one good student out of 100 students and educate them to be more qualified, “ adding, “Rather than stimulating hierarchical orders among students, it would be better to increase the schools’ competitive power by specializing themselves in specific fields.”

However, Chung, president of SNU, held a press conference at the same day and said, “I would like to correct what people know about our admission policy line,” stressing, “My original position, however, hasn’t changed at all that student admissions must be under the control of concerned schools. We have put great energy into research that aims to come up with measures for fairly inviting students without violating the policies of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development.”

Regarding a question on his future status that was raised by the lawmakers of the ruling party, Chung said, “If I am forced to step down, I will. I don’t hesitate due to worries over my personal status,” stressing, “I strongly believe that keeping the autonomy of universities leads to not only the development of this country but also the development of schools themselves.”

Lee Jong-seop, the head of the SNU Admissions Management Office, additionally said, “Some think that our new admissions policy favors graduates of specialized high schools and that disciplinary analytical writing is very similar to the former college entrance exam. However, this is completely wrong,” adding, “It is very regrettable that without conducting an in-depth analysis and having an understanding of our policy, a party-government consultative conference is calling for the fundamental transformation of school admissions policies.”

The council of SNU professors responded by saying, “The recent government actions have damaged the autonomy of universities to an extent even worse than the damage caused by military authoritarian regimes in the past,” adding, “To prevent politicians’ attempts to control universities and endanger the entire nation, we will hold an emergency meeting today where we will tackle this.”

Meanwhile, Kim Jin-pyo, the deputy prime minister and minister of Education and Human Resources Development, said, “We will draw up guidelines that can block the SNU’s analytical writing test from being typed into the former college entrance exam until the end of August and encourage the school to consider various barometers in evaluating students, including using students’ high school records.”

In-Chul Lee Jae-Young Kim inchul@donga.com jaykim@donga.com