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Government undermines 2,000 medical seat hike plan

Posted April. 20, 2024 08:14,   

Updated April. 20, 2024 08:14


On Friday, the government announced that the universities will now determine the expansion of medical school admissions for the 2025 academic year, originally set to include an additional 2,000 students. This shift in policy comes just nine days after the ruling party’s defeat in the April 10 general elections and 73 days after the initial announcement of the increase on February 6. The government claims it made this decision following suggestions from the presidents of national universities, but it was revealed that the government had proposed this change first.

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, during a briefing at the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters, announced on the same day, "For the 2025 academic year only, the 32 universities with increased admissions quotas can autonomously recruit new students, allowing them to fill anywhere from 50% to 100% of the increased quota, should they choose to." This decision has sparked conflict within the universities, especially as some medical faculties oppose the increase. Concerns have also been raised about potential disruptions in classes at universities that have experienced significant expansions. This announcement effectively signals a government-led reduction in the initially planned expansion.

According to a report by The Dong-A Ilbo, this announcement followed a proposal by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Lee Ju-ho. Prime Minister Han, however, asserted in the briefing that the government proactively accepts the suggestions from the presidents of national universities. The sequence of events suggests a different story. "On April 17, Deputy Prime Minister Lee secretly met with representatives from some of the universities where medical school quotas had been increased and initially proposed an autonomous reduction plan of 50 to 100%," an official from one university disclosed. The following day (April 18), chancellors from six major national universities presented a proposal that seemed to be voluntarily submitted, incorporating Deputy Prime Minister Lee's suggestion, and on Friday, the government appeared to endorse this proposal.

Previously, of the total planned increase of 2,000 seats, 806 were assigned to national universities and 1,194 to private universities. Most private universities are maintaining their stance on a 100% increase, and some national universities also appear reluctant to reduce their increases. Therefore, the expected increase in medical school seats for the next year is likely to be between 1,500 and 1,700.

조유라 기자 jyr0101@donga.com