[EDITORIALS]Move universities outPresident Roh Moo-hyun said that he would come up with an alternative on the issue of the capital city’s relocation that would not be in violation of the decision by the Constitutional Court. He said he would find a solution to decentralize, balance the development of land, and ease the overpopulation of the Seoul metropolitan area. As an alternative, we recommend the move of universities in Seoul to the area that was designated as the new administrative capital. Gangwon province recently offered a large tract of land to Seoul National University if it would move to that region.
Currently, most four-year universities are crowded into the Seoul area. Most top universities are situated in Seoul or its vicinity. Every year, 600,000 students apply to enroll into universities in the Seoul metropolitan area. While most universities in the capital fill their admissions quota, universities in the provinces usually cannot meet even half of their quotas. Freshmen at provincial universities transfer to universities in the Seoul area when they reach their sophomore or junior year, barely allowing universities outside Seoul to survive. The slow death of these regional universities is stealing resources from other parts of the country.
Even if administrative and public bodies were to move out of Seoul, decentralization and balanced development is required. If prestigious universities were to transfer to the provinces, it would lead to true development there. If universities moved or merged with provincial universities, the crowding of universities in Seoul would be eased and provincial universities would be able to survive.
The educational environment at Seoul universities is poor. Most campuses are surrounded by entertainment outlets, and because of all the transportation din, it is difficult to seek knowledge in an academic setting.
If the government was willing to use trillions of won for the relocation of capital, some of that money could be used to create first-class educational facilities for universities. If the universities were given a strong incentive to leave Seoul, they would. Now that the creation of corporate cities is becoming a reality, there is nothing to stop us from creating a university city.
If we created university cities in Gangwon province or elsewhere, we could accomplish the same ends as moving the capital - at a much lower cost.