[EDITORIALS]Cooperate with the schools

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[EDITORIALS]Cooperate with the schools

Starting this year, universities and colleges have to publicly release their enrollment figures, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources announced yesterday. The ministry announced that it would subsidize colleges commensurate with how much the colleges reduce student quotas.
This means that schools will stop inflating enrollment figures and reduce their size in order to concentrate on increasing the actual enrollment rates. The total number of students accepted to colleges in 2006 is expected to be the smallest number in history.
There are 358 colleges in our country, including junior colleges. This is a higher number than the 234 cities and administrative districts with their own autonomous governments. There were 55 universities and 70 junior colleges that failed to achieve an 80 percent enrollment rate last year. Professors of colleges outside Seoul that are relatively less popular lament that they are forced to leave their research and classes in order to recruit students. How can we expect our schools to survive and thrive in this situation?
If our universities and colleges want to be competitive, they must be “trimmed down.” It is a good thing that the education ministry has decided to get rid of 87 colleges by 2009 and reduce 95,000 slots from its total student quota. Under the change, public universities will accept 12,000 fewer students while private universities should cut 83,000 students.
Also, the ministry was correct in directing colleges to make public various indexes such as the employment rate among their graduates, the ratio of students to professors and the ratio of temporary lecturers to full-time professors. This will lead to colleges voluntarily restructuring.
It is important that these restructuring measures should not be forced unilaterally on the colleges. Without the voluntary participation of the schools, the education ministry’s efforts to reduce student quotas will hit a dead end. Already, there have been cases of schools failing to merge because of a clash of interests among involved parties. Schools need to think of ways to minimize the resistance.
In order for a smooth implementation of these restructuring measures, the schools themselves, either public or private, must voluntarily accept and carry out these measures. The government, in turn, should assist the schools in their efforts through administrative and financial support.
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