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[Editorial] Is “Head-On” Collision Between Roh and SNU’s President Imminent?

[Editorial] Is “Head-On” Collision Between Roh and SNU’s President Imminent?

Posted July. 08, 2005 05:19,   


It seems that President Roh Moo-hyun and Seoul National University (SNU) president Chung Un-chan are standing face to face with each other over SNU’s admission test plan for 2008. President Roh, referring to SNU’s “inter-subject essay test” as its own admissions test, said he would like universities to “make a concession and follow the national policy as the college admissions system has a huge influence on public education.” SNU president Chung, however, made it clear that he would not make any “concessions,” adding that he “thinks he has found the right way.”

Let us take a look at what is “national policy.” Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Kim Jin-pyo said he “liked the SNU plan as it would implement a variety of processes in selecting students.” The situation changed, however, as civic groups affiliated with the Korean Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union (KTEWU) accused the SNU plan as a resurrection of individual college admissions exams. In the end, the president went as far as to point it out as “bad news.” Even the Enforcement Ordinance for the Higher Education Act (Article 35, Clause 2) permits essay tests. Then which is national policy, the Higher Education Act or the civic groups’ statement?

President Roh said he is “determined that a handful of universities should not ruin the whole high school public education system in an effort to select the best students.” Competition among universities to secure the best talent by enhancing the quality of education should be encouraged by the government. It is the government policy that has “ruined public education” by confining the best middle and high school students into standardized classrooms.

Some lawmakers of the governing party said they would introduce a law against the universities’ own admissions exams, including essay tests, but such an unconstitutional law would not be able to survive in the Constitutional Court. Article 31 of the Constitution stipulates that the “autonomy of universities is guaranteed by law.” The right to select students is the core of autonomy for universities. The Constitution also stipulates that “every citizen has the right to get an equal education according to his or her capability.” Standardizing universities through undiscriminating college entrance exams will destroy the constitutional value of “equality according to one’s capability.”

College admissions should be up to universities. The future of our education is dismal if the president intervenes too much and too often.