Hurry help to our studentsGrand National Party Chairman Chung Mong-joon suggested at a press conference last Friday that a provisional session of the National Assembly to pass several bills on the income contingent repayment plan for low-income students should begin by the middle of this month. As originally promised by the government, Chung is insisting on advancing the schedule for passing the bill so it can be implemented during the first semester of 2010.
If the Assembly goes on at this rate, the ICA scheme will be delayed, with many students suffering. The National Assembly itself is to blame for this negligence. Chung’s suggestion is an effective remedy to prevent any actual damage to students.
An official from the Education Ministry also explained that, if the bill passes the plenary session early next week, it will be possible to implement it during the first semester. The party should endeavor to pass the bill as early as possible, as Chung insists.
The Education, Science and Technology Committee has agreed to a schedule for passing the ICR bills at a plenary session on Feb. 1, after winning the approval of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee on Jan. 26 and 27 and the general meeting on Jan. 27 and 28.
If we continue at this rate, it will be impossible to subsidize school expenses in time for the spring semester registration period. Follow-up measures, such as an enforcement decree, the issuing of bonds and the confirmation of loan applicants’ qualifications, will take at least 25 days. But registration for new students takes place Feb. 2 to 4, and enrolled students register Feb. 6 to 28.
The bill must be passed sooner. The ministry insists that if the bill passes on Jan. 11, tuition will be subsidized on Feb. 4, the registration deadline for new students. If it passes by the middle of this month, enrolled students will possibly enjoy partial benefits.
Politicians have been involved in controversies around this bill since it was submitted in November 2009. Noting the strong resistance, committee Chairman Lee Jong-kul delayed referring the bill to the permanent committee until yesterday. Trivial political strife has left more than 1 million impoverished students in suspense due to expensive tuition fees.
Incredibly, Lee criticized the government even though he was in the wrong, saying, “The government is trying to pass the buck to the Assembly. It should stop trying to delay the introduction of the ICR plan past the first semester.”
The Assembly should immediately open the provisional session and pass the ICR bills as soon as possible, or they will be too ashamed to face our nation’s students.