[EDITORIALS]Too many collegesWith the decreasing number of high school graduates making it more and more difficult for universities to draft applicants, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources announced that it would encourage mergers and acquisitions among universities and promote the joining of different departments at universities. The decision is an inevitable one in light of the worsening financial situation at universities.
The situation is worse for a considerable number of private colleges outside Seoul. Even schools that manage to fill their first-year student quota often find their campus emptying out as an exodus of students leaves for colleges based in Seoul after two or three years. Every year during the college application season, colleges offer tuition reductions and exemptions, free boarding, opportunities to go study abroad and even free cellular phones in order to attract potential freshmen. When all else fails, Korean colleges invite foreign students. There are even reports of professors being paid according to how many students they attract to attend their colleges.
This sad state of affairs was expected because education authorities recklessly have permitted too many new colleges to be established during the past 10 years, in attempts to ease the intense competition for college entrance. Some colleges were the products of fierce lobbying by those who wanted to make money by running the institutions. Shamefully, the Education Ministry, which long ignored the reality of declining high school enrollments, now wants to undo its own handiwork.
The merger and acquisition of colleges should be pursued not as measure to fend off the bankruptcy or the dispersion of colleges, but as a method of mutually developing and maturing the colleges. Mergers and acquisitions between domestic and foreign colleges should be done so that our colleges can be prepared when the education market is opened. Above all, these measures should not negatively affect the students who are already attending colleges.