[EDITORIALS]Universities have rights too

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[EDITORIALS]Universities have rights too

The controversy over the new university entrance system, that will apply to current ninth-grade students when they enter universities in 2008, is almost endless. Because the College Scholastic Ability Test will adopt a new grading system to replace the exsiting numerical scoring system, it will be difficult to gauge differences in the scholastic abilities of students. An even hotter debate is on the inevitability of introducing a grading system for high schools so that school records are evaluated with added weight given to the school, according to its grade.
The universities are of the opinion that there are wide gaps in quality among high schools and this gap should be reflected when evaluating students’ abilities. But the Ministry of Education, the Korea Teachers and Educational Workers Union and parents’ associations strongly oppose that plan on the grounds of fairness.
Universities select potential talent and research manpower that will contribute to national development. It is natural that universities should decide their standard of qualifications and test methods. Universities must be guaranteed the right to select their students. In advanced countries, the state only provides materials to compare applicants’ scholastic ability comprehensively on national level. Unlike South Korea, these countries do not force universities to apply a certain ratio between scores on standardized tests and school records or ban all universities from giving entrance examinations of their own.
Korean parents have educational zeal and enthusiasm for private lessons for their children, and we have to consider the possible bad effects of a more liberal university enrollment system. A compromise could be to limit the government to providing graded college test results and school records that universities would use, along with their own criteria, to select students.
In this process, whether to rank high schools for quality or not should be left to universities. Despite our standardized education, there exist gaps in the scholastic rigor in high schools. The claim that the gap must be ignored and university entrance evaluations must be done to the same standard, is like insisting that univerisity education, too, should be standardized. The ultimate goal of education is maximizing the talent and ability of students, not making them all equal.
It is appropriate that universities decide their own standards and methods of selecting students.

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