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Private education measures could threat university autonomy

Private education measures could threat university autonomy

Posted June. 27, 2023 08:08,   

Updated June. 27, 2023 08:08


Following the Ministry of Education's decision to eliminate so-called "killer questions" from the annual state-administered College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT), additional measures have been announced to address private education costs. These measures include removing killer questions from essay exams conducted by individual colleges during the admission process. Moreover, the ministry will actively identify and penalize colleges that incorporate such questions in their essay and interview assessments, which exceed the scope of public education.

Most people would agree with the government that the excessive obsession with cram schools is undermining the fairness of admission exams and contributing to declining birth rates, which is detrimental to the nation. However, it is doubtful whether the issue of private education can be resolved solely by adjusting the question difficulty without addressing the underlying competitive structure. Specifically, the government's intervention in the early admission process, which includes essays and interviews, contradicts the policy of promoting university autonomy and could potentially have unintended consequences.

"Greater autonomy of universities" to foster creative talent is a key focus of the education reform presented by the government as a national task shortly after its launch. The government has even established the University Regulatory Reform Bureau to address university regulations. This direction has been set recognizing that uniform regulations, ranging from classroom size to student evaluation methods, are diminishing the global competitiveness of Korean universities. The ability to select talented individuals who align with their founding ideology is a fundamental right of universities, especially private ones. It is inappropriate for the government, which has pledged to grant universities more autonomy, to seek to monitor interview questions based on ambiguous criteria to determine whether certain questions fall within the realm of public education.

The Ministry of Education has disclosed 22 exceptionally challenging "killer questions" from the past three years of the CSAT and the recent June mock CSAT tests. This revelation follows a review of 480 Korean, Math, and English questions. However, the ministry has not provided the percentage of correct answers or consistent criteria based on its judgment. Each year, 500 experts who work diligently for a month create and review CSAT questions. Previously, the government had not accused these questions of deviating from the public high school curriculum. However, after scrutinizing four sets of CSAT questions within a week, it claims these killer questions are undermining the "fairness of CSAT" without presenting any clear evidence. Some individuals in the education community jest, stating, "Perhaps students should return to private cram schools to learn the explicit foundations for these killer questions."

There are so many variables involved in the college admissions process that if you mess up one of them, the repercussions will be far-reaching. It's time to stop piecing things together and focus on helping students relieve anxiety for this year’s CSAT. As this year's CSAT approaches, the daily coverage of shifting trends in CSAT can place excessive pressure on students.