Council: Gov’t should help out universities

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Council: Gov’t should help out universities

After the Grand National Party announced it will push to lower university tuition fees by at least half, the Korea Council for University Education released a statement yesterday calling on the government to first provide financial support and specific policies to boost the budgets of universities, before cutting tuition fees for students.

At an emergency board meeting held at the President Hotel, central Seoul, the council released a statement saying, “To ease the burdens of university students, devising a specific policy is essential, along with expanding the government’s support for universities’ budgets.

“We sincerely sympathize with students and parents suffering from high tuition fees. In an effort to increase the budget for higher education, a series of government policies must be conducted, such as a tax deduction on donations for universities.

“Universities will also make efforts to boost transparency in financial affairs on campus and arrange more scholarships.”

Kim Young-gil, chairman of the council, said, “The fact is that the rate of government support per person for higher education is relatively lower in Korea than in other OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries.

“For a better quality of education, tuition fees should be lowered with the help of the government.”

Meanwhile, Seoul Jongno Police Precinct said Sunday that 73 university students had been arrested on charges of holding a demonstration without official approval.

The students were demanding that the ruling Grand National Party keep a pledge it made on tuition in 2006.

According to police, roughly 300 university students occupied Gwanghwamun Plaza Sunday.

Police ordered the students to end the rally, but half of them kept on demonstrating.

“They gave a notice to us saying that they would hold a rally in Maronier Park, Daehangno, Seoul, but they suddenly changed their plan and demonstrated in Gwanghwamun Plaza,” a police official said. “We will take legal steps against the arrested students.”

The issue of cutting tuition fees in half was raised by Park Geun-hye, the former Grand National Party leader, during local elections in May 2006.

The ruling GNP took that pledge as one of seven major pledges for the election that year.

President Lee Myung-bak also made the pledge when running for president in 2007. After becoming president, however, Lee instead adopted a policy that enables students to pay back their student loans after graduation, instead of cutting tuition fees.

By Kim Hee-jin []

한글 관련 기사 [연합]

참여연대 “대교협 등록금 대책 구체성 결여”

시민단체 등은 30일 한국대학교육협의회(이하 대교협)가 정치권의 등록금 부담 경감 논의와 관련해 정부의 교육재정 확대가 선행해야 한다고 밝힌 데 대해 "구체적 대안이 없어 신뢰하기 어렵다"고 평가했다.

안진걸 참여연대 민생희망팀장은 이날 대교협이 `등록금 문제 해결에 재단 적립금을 활용하는 방안을 마련하겠다`는 입장을 내자 "일단 방향을 정했다는 점은 긍정적으로 보나 아직은 추상적인 수준"이라고 선을 그었다.

안 팀장은 "정부 지원을 늘리는 것이 등록금 문제 해결의 핵심이긴 하나 대학도 합리적으로 예산을 짜고 이 문제에 적극 동참하려는 의지를 보여야 한다"며 "예컨대 `적립금의 어느 정도 비율을 장학금으로 쓰겠다`는 식의 구체적 안이 없어 아직은 더 두고 봐야 할 상황"이라고 말했다.

김삼호 한국대학교육연구소 수석연구원은 "적립금을 활용한 장학금 확보와 재정 효율화, 투명성을 강조한 부분은 긍정적"이라면서도 "핵심은 등록금 부담 완화인데 `반값 등록금`에 대한 대학들의 입장을 잘 모르겠다"고 밝혔다.

김 연구원은 "경제협력개발기구(OECD) 국가 가운데 한국의 고등교육 재정이 부족하다는 것은 누구나 아는 사실"이라며 "결국 등록금 부담을 세금으로 줄이라는 뜻인데 지금 시점에서 현실성이 없어 보이고 사실상 대학들이 반값 등록금에 반대 견해를 표명한 것으로 해석된다"고 말했다.

이승훈 한국대학생연합(한대련) 대학교육실장은 "정부의 교육재정이 다른 나라보다 턱없이 부족해 늘려야 하는 것은 사실이지만 대학 재정도 투명해야 한다"면서 "일부 사립대에서 적립금을 쌓아두거나 예ㆍ결산 과정이 투명하지 않은 경우가 있는데 이런 부분은 바뀌어야 한다"며 대학 측의 책임 있는 태도를 강조했다.

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