Ministry names bad universities that may get ax

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Ministry names bad universities that may get ax

In a major attempt to crackdown on lousy universities, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology disclosed the names of 30 subpar schools yesterday - 15 four-year universities and 15 two-year community colleges - and trimmed their student loan credit lines for next year.

This is the first time the government has named poor-quality schools and is part of an overhaul dedicated to getting bad schools to close their doors.

“The purpose of disclosing the list is to obligate universities to take more responsibility and force them to enhance their quality of education and debt repayment status,” said Seol Dong-keun, first vice minister of the Education Ministry. “The ministry will also come up with measures to help hopeless universities voluntary wrap up their business.”

According to officials, the ministry recently reviewed the country’s 345 universities and community colleges and looked at their employment numbers, financial status (including debt repayment status), curriculums and the number of students and full-time professors. The ministry divided them into A, B and C ratings. The B and C categories included 30 schools.

The ministry originally planned to disclose the names of 50 poor-quality universities at the bottom 15 percent of the list, but it pulled back after fierce protests from schools and pleas from the Korean Council for University Education and the Korean Council for University College Education.

Under the ministry’s plan to restrict financing for bad schools, freshmen in B-rated universities will be eligible to borrow only 70 percent of their tuition using student loans while freshmen in C-rated universities can borrow only 30 percent.

The ministry said it wouldn’t restrict loans for students from lower-income families.

The B-rated universities include Daegu University of Foreign Studies, Suwon Catholic University, Youngdong University and Sorabol College.

The six C-rated universities include Jeju College of Technology, Busan Arts College and Kyongbuk Science University.

In regard to criticism of the fairness of the ministry’s analyses, Seol said the ministry studied the employment rate of graduates and the number of applicants to each school, which he said was the fairest method to rate universities.

“The universities named will be given a second chance, and some universities could be saved and will be able to get their names off the list depending on the changes they make by an October deadline,” Seol said. “The ministry is hoping that the measures will bring a major breakthrough in the universities.”

A 20-year-old freshman surnamed Kim, who is majoring in physical education at a university in South Chungcheong that was on the list, said the number of classmates dropped 50 percent this semester to 10.

The university was established in 2002, but some of the school buildings are still under construction because it failed to come up with enough money after it only filled 50 percent of the freshman class.

“The food in the cafeteria is terrible and unsanitary, and I suffer a terrible stomachache whenever I eat there,” Kim said. “The safest food here is cup ramen.”

Kim’s classmate Park complained she has a hard time taking notes in the winter because of the school’s poor heating system.

“I pay 4 million won ($3,400) in tuition every semester, and it seems like my money ends up somewhere else,” Park said.

Lee Pil-nam, an education expert at the Korean Educational Development Institute, said he’s not surprised at the bad school list.

“The 30 universities on the list were rumored to be suffering financial crunches as they recklessly expanded without finding real identities for their schools,” Lee said.

By Kim Mi-ju, Lee Won-jean []
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