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For a Fair Admissions Officer System

Posted September. 14, 2010 11:43,   


The Lee Myung-bak administration has championed the college admissions officer system as part of its war on private education. Accordingly, the number of university students selected for admission by such officers has dramatically increased from 4,500 last year to 37,600 next year. If this method is to succeed, fairness is the key. Unfortunately, a series of incidents portend a grim future for the system.

The CEO of a speech education company whose wife is an admissions officer at a prestigious university in Seoul told a former co-worker on Twitter, “If your children apply to the university, let me know. You know, my wife is an admissions officer there. Take advantage of your network.” It is difficult for admissions officers to make fair evaluations once favors are asked of them. That is why colleges should be careful with the selection and supervision of admissions officers. To pick students with good character, creativity and growth potential, admissions officers themselves should have ample expertise and a sense of duty.

The short training period for admissions officers has created problems, with a number of them being disqualified. The Education, Science and Technology Ministry has spent 1.1 billion won (950,000 U.S. dollars) to train admissions officers, but the program has been managed too loosely. According to ruling Grand National Party lawmaker Rep. Kim Se-yeon, certain colleges used the training funds to buy equipment and had poor curricula for the training. It is doubtful whether serious and in-depth evaluations have been made given that the average admissions officer has screened 57.3 applicants this year.

Fears are growing over colleges possibly recruiting outstanding students early or giving preferential treatment to the children of the upper class or school faculty. Leading ruling party Rep. Chung Doo-un questioned the admissions officer system’s fairness, saying, “The current admissions officer system is similar to the special recruiting system for government officials.” A private company can write a statement of purpose, which is the critical evaluation source in the admissions officer system, on behalf of students.

Chaos could ensue if the system fails to earn credibility and consensus from parents that the college entrance process is fair. The government also needs to proceed step by step while controlling the speed of the system’s introduction and checking the progress of preparation. Colleges should also recognize that the new system is a critical litmus test for the realization of fair education and must prepare systems for strict internal audits and post-verification.