[EDITORIALS]Provincial preferences

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[EDITORIALS]Provincial preferences

The government said it has established a jobs quota for graduates of universities outside Seoul when it selects public servants and diplomats through state examinations. If graduates from regional universities do not make up 20 percent of those who pass the civil and diplomatic service examinations, as many as are needed to fill the quota will be selected. If the plan goes well, universities outside Seoul, which suffer serious shortages of applicants, will be revived. Provincial areas will be able to develop in a more balanced way, so we believe the proposal has some positive aspects.
But the plan may not guarantee equal opportunities and fair competition to applicants, and it could be unconstitutional. Counterdiscrimination against applicants who graduated from universities in the capital region is also a troubling prospect.
Regional universities are in trouble because of the falling number of high school graduates. The provincial schools also cannot attract enough applicants because of their poor educational conditions. Talented students avoid the regional schools, pulling down the level of education further. Graduates of those schools are also facing unemployment. Such phenomena hinder the balanced development of Korea’s regions and encourage the talent and economic power to concentrate in the capital region.
But in the long run, the plan will weaken the competitiveness of regional universities and their ability to survive because students will believe that they could become public servants even if their abilities were modest. It is also a question whether public officials accepted to fill up the quotas would perform adequately. And graduates of our best universities in Seoul may be hampered in getting official jobs.
Instead of adopting preferential treatment for provincial universities, it would be appropriate to let them specialize in a field and give priority to their graduates who apply for jobs in that field. If special treatment has to be given, it would be better to give priority to provincial graduates in local and provincial civil service jobs.
Some ministers have objected to the plan, saying it would pull down scholastic quality across the board. The administration admitted the flaws. The plan needs more study.
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