[EDITORIALS]Diversification makes sense

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[EDITORIALS]Diversification makes sense

Chung Un-chan, the president of Seoul National University, has repeatedly spoken of a regional quota system that will be introduced in admissions. Although both pros and cons exist in accepting students through this system, Seoul National University's effort to diversify the admissions criteria by supporting the socially disadvantaged is commendable.

The major problem the regional quota system will bring is damage to the existing principle of fair competition in entrance exams and unintended discrimination against the low-income residents of metropolitan areas. However, each year, the composition of an entering freshman class of a university shows that the number of students from upper middle-class families residing in large cities is continuously increasing, resulting in the phenomenon of the rich getting more spots in the education arena and the poor getting fewer.

The reality is that in this year's admissions, there were only 725 high schools that had at least one student accepted to Seoul National University, among 2,035 high schools in Korea. It is advisable for social integration to gather and teach students from all walks of life, especially at a university supported by the collection of public taxes.

Mr. Chung says that no severe problems will emerge with the execution of a regional quota system, for of the 3,900-odd students to be accepted, when 1 or 2 are to be distributed according to their districts, the total will amount to only 200 to 300. Yet if a concrete plan is devised to introduce this system, many difficult problems will arise, such as distribution methods and selection criteria. This will also require coordination with the current special admissions order for students from farming and fishing communities.

There will be enough time for Seoul National University to collect views and study this issue if Mr. Chung intends to put this in action before his term expires in 2007. The recent trend is that the selection criteria solely based on school records and entrance examinations are being shunned, and the diversification of admission criteria is becoming more appealing to most people. Also, autonomous administration of universities is being endorsed.
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