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Universities Free to Select Students by Major

Posted April. 05, 2008 04:03,   


Regulation that requires universities to select students based on department or credits will be abolished. The deregulation is anticipated to allow universities to select students based on major beginning as early as 2009.

In an attempt to tackle skyrocketing tuition fees, the government plans to establish a new state-run scholarship foundation to expand student loans and counseling. It also plans to increase the number of tailored scholarship programs.

Integrated undergraduate-graduate degree programs will also be established to complement the integrated graduate-postgraduate degree programs. This is expected to make it possible for students to obtain a doctorate degree within five or six years from the beginning of their undergraduate course.

Education Minister Kim Do-yeon disclosed the plan at a meeting of university chairs supervised by President Lee Myung-bak at Cheong Wa Dae on Friday.

“[The ministry] will lift regulations, which have been impediments to universities, and abolish provisions that regulate university administrations,” the minister said.

The ministry decided to abolish the provision, stated in the Enforcement Decree of Higher Education Act, that regulates how universities select their students. The current policy has been in effect since 1995.

Currently, students can only choose the department or college when entering university and select the major in their second or third year. Now, universities should be able to allow freshmen to choose their majors.

The ministry will also abolish regulations that stipulate that a university year should begin on March 1. Considering that some universities begin the first semester in late February, the ministry judged that the regulation was unnecessary. But the first day of classes for elementary, middle and high schoolers will remain March 1.

At this meeting, President Lee touched upon the hardships students face due to rising tuition fees, saying, “The Education Ministry and the Strategy and Finance Ministry will discuss ways in which the government can actively support scholarships while also systemize support.” He also requested the full cooperation of university chairs.

To this end, the Education Ministry plans to draft a law for the establishment of a state-run scholarship foundation by June and operate the foundation beginning January, next year.

The ministry plans to expand the scope of scholarship programs tied to family income. Programs will include scholarships for beneficiaries of the “basic living income” system until 2011 and interest-free loans for students in the “second-highest group.”