[EDITORIALS]Education elites needed

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[EDITORIALS]Education elites needed

Chung Un-chan, president of Seoul National University, has reiterated the need for colleges to have full say in selecting new students. Speaking at a hearing of the National Assembly’s education committee, he implored lawmakers to let colleges have autonomy in their recruitment, and to rethink the current ban on giving preference to students from well-performing high schools, the ban on universities writing their own entrance exams and the ban on donation-based admissions.
With heart-felt conviction as a chief of the nation’s most competitive university, he says that for universities and the country to develop, colleges must be able to recruit students based on their real academic performance, not scores adjusted by high schools.
The Financial Times, in its recent article, found that American universities, whose top priority is in attracting the smartest students and professors, through competition, are the world’s top higher education institutions.
We do not need much imagination to envision the future should South Korea continue to adhere to a more egalitarian line in its education policy. Korean universities will start down the steep hill of decline. But the reality is that our education policies already tilt toward an egalitarian line. We cannot continue on this track.
First, we should allow universities to pick their students. The current admissions process ― which uses a student’s high school records and the scores from the College Scholastic Ability Test that hardly provide any guidance to tell a good from a mediocre student ― should be open to greater competition. Policymakers should leave the decision on whether colleges give preference to students from certain schools or whether they set their own entrance exams, to the colleges. Also, we need to put the adoption of donations-based admissions to public debate. It confounds us that the government seems intent on going the other way when the right path is clearly before us.
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