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University corruption uncovered

July 18,2011
Myungshin University in Suncheon, South Jeolla, is a typical example of the mismanaged private universities that have degenerated into a profitable business by selling diplomas. According to the latest audit by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the university essentially allowed students to pay for grades and the school’s endowment has turned out to be a source of money for the founder’s family.

We are wondering how the school, notorious for corruption and irregularities, has managed to operate without any restrictions from the education authority since its foundation in 1999. The ministry had vowed to make it an example of schools that should be shut. Now the ministry should take responsibility for the mess.

The Education Ministry’s audit of the university reveals that the school is involved in all forms of corruption, including management based on nepotism, embezzlement and selling grades. The founder is the president, and his wife, a daughter and a son were employed as chairwoman of the board, president and vice president, respectively.

After the founder, surnamed Lee, left his position, the school gave him an allowance of 100 million won ($94,500) per year, in addition to paying for his apartment maintenance fees and gas for his car, all out of the university coffers. The total amounted to a whopping 6.8 billion won. The widespread rumor that the university gives credits to students who don’t attend class were also proven true after it was revealed that it faked the attendance days for 22,794 students and gave them grades to maintain student numbers. We are shocked that the ministry’s 2010 survey on the average scores of college students nationwide placed the university in first place - 91.92 out of a full score of 100.

Still, there are many universities that can’t even be called a “university.” They only exist to exploit students’ tuition for their own business. The results of the latest audit of Sunghwa College in South Jeolla - which created a big stir because it revealed that professors earn a scanty salary of 130,000 won per month - will also be made public soon.

These dire results come amid hot debates over reducing university tuition fees. Expensive tuitions can be lowered and the government can provide financial support if necessary. But the universities across the nation that have come under fire for budget abuses must first reform themselves. The government should avoid allowing these schools to sustain themselves at taxpayers’ expense.



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