Academic freedomThe revolt by major universities, starting with Korea University, by selecting as many as half of their incoming freshman class using only CSAT scores is causing a stir in Korean society. In light of the current tumult it’s time to change what are probably the world’s worst admission regulations.
The regulations, put in place by the Education Ministry, are onerous. The ministry has often thrust its nose into the country’s higher education system by standing firm on three principles: The entrance exam cannot be given directly by universities, use a grading system of the country’s high schools that gives graduates of certain schools an advantage and don’t allow financial contributions to be made to colleges in exchange for admission.
Let’s take a look at the 2008 college entrance exam. The CSAT and high school performance grades are now divided into nine levels. And the school performance results are now assessed relatively and not on an absolute scale. In order to get a better grip on applicants’ qualifications, which they argue can’t be solely assessed using test scores, universities are saying they will focus on the written examination.
When that happened last year,former education minister Kim Jin-pyo told universities to employ a selection process in which more than 50 percent of the student’s high school grades would be reflected. Now universities have come up with a new approach.
If the university entrance exam was entirely administered by the universities, they could freely use school grades, CSAT scores and essays at will, in accordance with each universities’ situation.
However, the ministry’s intervention in the process has destroyed public education and helped the private education sector. This is due to the Roh administration’s control of university education, based on unrealistic policies aimed at educational equality, despite the fact that students have very different capabilities.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development recently said the Korean government should lift some restrictions on university education. During this administration, sending kids to college has become harder while education expenses have increased along with the number of students leaving the country.
It’s no wonder that the OECD has advised the Korean government to limit the ministry’s function to support, account and monitor. The Education Ministry has to take its hands off the university entrance exam and give our universities their freedom.