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Universities Under Pressure to Comply with the High School Grading System

Universities Under Pressure to Comply with the High School Grading System

Posted June. 16, 2007 04:57,   


The government has asked universities and colleges to conform to its revised admission guidelines, which require giving different points based on high school students’ grade records and increasing the “real” reflection rates (the effects of the school record difference between the highest and lowest grades when evaluating applicants) in 2008 admissions.

With the college entrance exam only about five months away, the new measure may trigger a backlash from students and colleges. Some high schools that have a number of students with good records voiced their concerns over the students’ disadvantage, while ordinary high schools welcomed the guidelines.

The government held a ministerial meeting, which was presided by Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, in Seoul on Thursday. The six ministries involved are the Education Ministry, the Science and Technology Ministry, the Information and Communication Ministry, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, the Health and Welfare Ministry, and the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry. In this meeting, the government warned that universities that do not comply with its guidelines will have their financial subsidies cut. This marks the first time the government convened a ministerial talk regarding concrete college admission guidelines.

The government unveiled its position, saying, “In implementing the 2008 admission policies, the colleges that do not abide by official guidelines will face the suspension of 23 of the government-sponsored projects by the six ministries, which amounts to over 1.5 trillion won a year.”

The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development said in the meeting, “There were growing disputes over colleges that do apply different admission policies even if they had announced the reflection rates on each evaluation element. Colleges are called on to apply the same rates when assessing high school records and to follow the official guidelines based on nine grades.” The education ministry has asked for the consideration of more than 50 percentage points of high school grade records in admission.

The revised guidelines for 2008 admissions will place students with poor school records at much of a disadvantage since assessing the test scores on the College Entrance Exam will be based on a grading system, weakening judgment on test scores.

Kim Yong-geun, an assessment director at Jongno Academy, said, “Since students in an upper level are distributed in similar grade ranges, and the essay tests are taken in lesser consideration, they are put in a weaker position under the revised guidelines. Some students from special high schools, such as science and language high schools, may drop to take a certification exam.”

The ministry added, “We are considering some restrictive measures for Seoul National University, which announced that students with the first and second grades will be attained full marks in regular application.” This is contrary to its position so far, which has shown support to the university’s admission assessment. In response to this, SNU stated, “We will consider whether to comply with the revised guidelines.” SNU’s decision is expected to have an influence on other universities.