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Controversial University Merger Plan

Posted January. 16, 2006 03:00,   


A national university merger plan proposed by Uri Party lawmakers is expected to trigger a strong backlash from the universities involved.

Jee Byung-moon, chairman of the Sixth Policy Coordination Committee, said yesterday, “The current government university restructuring push is likely to end without results because there are no legal grounds to support its plan,” adding, “Because of this, we are planning to present a bill for the enactment of a tentative ‘Act on the Establishment and Operation of National Universities.’ This law will be more powerful than the current Presidential Decree on the Establishment of a National University.”

According to the bill, the current 40 national universities will be merged into less than 10 universities in accordance with geography, such as Daejeon/Chungnambuk, Gangwon, Busan/Gyeongnam/Ulsan, and Gwangju/Jeonnam.

Regarding the titles of the universities, Jee said that the party was considering calling them First National University, Second University and so on, instead of Seoul National University, Jeonnam National University, and Gyeongbuk National University.

“We haven’t gained support from all our party members yet,” Jee said. “After having meetings with local experts in Busan, Daegu, Gwangju, Daejeon, and Chuncheon starting tomorrow, we will present the bill to National Assembly next month.”

The plan will face opposition, however. Universities that have already started merger talks are stuck in the middle of negotiations, and some worry that if the titles of national universities are changed, current universities may lose prestige. But several ruling party lawmakers have called for the abolition of Seoul National University.