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Education Ministry, Gov’t Feud over Law Schools

Posted February. 01, 2008 08:06,   


The Education and Human Resources Development Ministry is at odds with the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae over the selection of universities that can open American-style law schools.

The ministry yesterday announced the preliminary choices by the Legal Education Committee of 25 universities allowed to run law schools and the annual student quota for each school.

Since the presidential office has disagreed with the results, the ministry has made it clear that any revision to the selections must come from Cheong Wa Dae, not the ministry.

A ministry news release said, “The ministry had planned to announce the (selected) universities and their student quotas on Jan. 31 after reviewing the Legal Education Committee’s recommendations. However, we needed more time for consultation with Cheong Wa Dae and other offices. We will announce the final decision on Feb. 4.”

The announcement came after the presidential office demanded the addition of another law school in South Gyeongsang Province, citing its principle of “one law school in one metropolis and its surrounding province.”

Education Ministry spokesman Seo Myeong-beom said, “We at the ministry have agreed that our provisional announcement is the final decision. We think the final announcement needs to be the same as what we have released, and we are making efforts to do so.”

A Cheong Wa Dae spokesman had earlier said, “Though we did not write it down on paper, we planned to allot at least one law school to a metropolitan city and its surrounding province.”

“South Gyeongsang Province, for example, has 3.06 million people but did not get one. We think this goes against balanced development of the nation. A revision is needed.”

Some said the ministry cannot make changes to the recommendations of the Legal Education Committee, but the ministry and committee members said it is possible.

A ministry official, however, said the recommendations are objective and that the allocation of law schools is a very sensitive matter that politics should not influence.

He also said Cheong Wa Dae has practically demanded Gyeongsang National University be allowed to have a law school, but that this is impossible because that would mean reducing the student quotas of other universities.

A Cheong Wa Dae source said “Until Feb. 4, there will be policy fine-tuning sessions mainly on controversial issues,” heralding a bumpy road ahead.