A junket, as it turned out to be

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A junket, as it turned out to be

They were supposed to be studying.

Admission officers from 20 Korean universities used university funds in April 2009 to head off to Turkey for nine days to learn about the admissions programs used by European universities.

Some of the officers, though, spent only three hours doing so.

This is according to a university employee who asked not to be identified. The worker told the JoongAng Ilbo that he and other admissions officers spent most of the time sightseeing. The overseas training program was organized by the Korean Administrator Association for University Admission.

“The training program was funded from the admission fees collected from each of the universities,” the worker said.

And in May last year, admission officers from 43 other universities left for a nine-day overseas training program in Australia, the Czech Republic and Hungary with a similar purpose, but they also spent the majority of the time sightseeing.

According to an inside document that Grand National Party Representative Kim Se-yeon obtained from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, of the 40 universities that participated in the overseas training programs last year, 18 national and one private university (including Pusan National University, the University of Incheon and Kyungpook National University) funded the programs with admission fees.

Kim said the reports that the admission officers submitted after the overseas training programs were poorly written because they spent most of the time sightseeing.

Some of the reports submitted basically copied and pasted text from the Web sites of the European universities or from an encyclopedia.

Kim also said questions the admission officers asked the European university officials lacked depth and seemed to be poorly prepared. Among the questions they asked were how many Korean students were enrolled in the universities and whether there were language programs available.

“There’s a serious moral issue,” said Kim, about employees using university fees for these trips.

Jang Eun-jo, a teacher at Kwangyoung High School, said some of her students have spent up to 2 million won ($1,700) submitting applications for early admission. “The universities must transparently disclose how they spend [funds] earned from college admission applications,” Jang said.

The Education Ministry said it will ban universities from using admission fees to send school workers for overseas training programs starting next year.

By Kim Min-sang, Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]
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