Autonomy in educationThe Education Ministry decided to give universities the right to have their own system to recruit new students. This is a belated decision but certainly the right move. We hope that this decision will enhance universities’ competitiveness and restructure the education system.
Yesterday, the Education Ministry handed in a measure to improve the university entrance system to the presidential transition committee. The measure consists of three steps. The first is to allow universities to decide how much they will reflect applicants’ high school records and the national college scholastic ability test results. The second step is to reduce the number of subjects covered in the scholastic ability test. The third step is to give full autonomy to universities in recruiting their students. The ministry accepted President Lee Myung-bak’s pledge on education, which is a three-step measure to give universities autonomy in selecting students. The new measure will likely become effective from 2011 when junior high school seniors take the college entrance exam.
The college entrance system has repeatedly changed, causing tremendous damage. Students and parents have complained about the system. Universities could not decide how much they reflect students’ high school records. The main cause for all problems was that the ministry controlled the university entrance system. So it is encouraging that it has decided to exert less control over the college entrance system.
We hope that universities will be given full autonomy in selecting their students. For now, universities are not allowed to have their own entrance tests, to give different rankings to different high schools and to admit students who make donations. We believe that these regulations must be abandoned to liberalize the university entrance system in the truest sense.
Universities also must respond accordingly. If universities earn autonomy they will also have responsibility for that. Universities must design transparent systems to recruit students. Their new systems must be fit for different colleges and departments and should contribute to normalization of high school education. Universities must make people trust them and not become suspicious about corruption in their entrance systems. Universities can become more competitive when they have autonomy. Once universities earn autonomy, they must pour all their energy in education and research. They must not waste their energy unnecessarily in the admission system.