[Letters] Behind the tuition battle
Students are marching on the streets, and school campuses are full of slogans and signs that demand the lowering of tuition fees, calling themselves the “10 Million Won Tuition Generation.”
It seems ideal to have all tuition halved, as many students are calling for. However, people are forgetting one important thing: coming to university was their choice. I want to ask them a question: Wasn’t it your choice to come to a private university?
The government runs the National Open University, and many public colleges charge much lower tuition fees than private ones. If one says that those public colleges are expensive, then he is asking for too much. A part-time job can surely cover the tuition. If not, the government lends you tuition to pay back later. Likewise, there are ways to get a college education without too heavy a burden. Yet, students choose to attend private schools and then say that the tuition is too expensive. Why should taxpayers have to pay to fund students to go to private schools?
Students assert that as Koreans are so conscious about one’s educational background, as represented by universities, they cannot help but go to private colleges. Well, if those students are so aware of social justice, why aren’t they trying to prove that a prestigious academic background is not the end all and be all themselves?
The problem we have to solve is not tuition itself, but why we have to go to colleges. Korea has one of the highest rates of college education in the world. Yet, most students usually end up going to colleges with no specific dream. They pay tuition for four years and have jobs that have absolutely no relevance to their majors. What a waste of time and money.
Government should focus on two things. First, enhance high school education, so that students can learn skills to get a job without going to colleges. In Korea, people have the biased view that vocational high schools are only for “troublemakers.” The government should triple its funding for vocational high schools and help students find their dream without going to college. Second, close down all incompetent colleges that are merely selling diplomas.
These measures are what the government should do. Unless these issues are solved, cutting tuition in half will be like pouring water into a broken pot. Students should also ask themselves the question, “Why am I at this college?” The tuition issue should be solved, yet it should be solved by handling more fundamental issues.
student at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies