English tests out as part of university admission process

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English tests out as part of university admission process

Starting with 2011 admissions, universities nationwide will be banned from taking into account in their screening process the records of applicants’ English tests such as Toefl and Toeic as well as prizes they garnered in various academic contests, Education Minister Ahn Byong-man said yesterday.

Also, applicants won’t be allowed to specify their overseas volunteer activities and experience at costly camps provided by private institutions that claim to foster leadership. The series of measures are aimed at removing rising concerns that the new admissions officer system will fan private education fever, going against the original goal. President Lee Myung-bak said earlier he wants to see all local universities ultimately pick students through the new system.

“Private education can be reduced only after universities adequately take into account the strengths of public education in their admissions procedures,” said Ahn. “Those universities that are found to have encouraged private education in their admissions officer system will be penalized, such as losing government financial support.”

Korean universities started introducing the new admissions system last year, and more have participated in the program this year. A total of 118 universities are set to recruit 38,000 students, or 10 percent of their total enrollment, through an admissions officer system for 2011, up from 26,000 next year. The combined amount of government subsidies for universities enforcing the new system will rise from 23.6 billion won ($19.9 million) this year to 35 billion won next year.

By having admissions officers make selections through various criteria, education authorities said they aim to cool the country’s overheated private education market. Following the government’s earlier policy announcement, however, private institutes started getting paid to provide consulting about how to use the system. Ahn said the ministry will unveil finalized details of the new measures “soon.”

Choi Su-tae, a high-ranking official at the ministry, said, “We have concluded that English tests such as Toefl and Toeic promote private education under normal circumstances.”

Only some students applying for language or international studies departments will be required to submit the data, he added.

By Jung Hyun-mok, Seo Ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]
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