Reign in the admissions officers

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Reign in the admissions officers

The college admissions officer system now appears to be fattening the already lucrative private education market by nurturing a new generation of college entrance consultants. The trend is dispelling the theory that the admissions officer system would diversify standards for evaluating students and decrease reliance on the private education industry.

A former Korea University admissions officer, surnamed Park, is a typical example. Park left the university to get a job in a professional college consulting company and now makes a dazzling 3 million won ($2,840) for four consulting sessions. Using his title as a former admissions officer at one of the top private universities in Korea, he has turned his career into an excellent mechanism for making money.

Since its introduction in 2008, the admissions officer system has been seen as a desirable method of student selection, as it was based on potential and talent, rather than academic performance. Despite its original aim to revitalize public education and diminish reliance on private education, the new system has caused unexpected - and unwanted - side effects as college applicants are increasingly dependent on consulting agencies for guidance. Against this backdrop, admissions officers are constantly exposed to the lure of money offered by consulting companies.

The success of the new system depends on the fairness and morality of the officers - a far cry from the current reality where a multitude of admissions officers are turning to consulting companies as a way to profit from their careers. The problem is that we don’t have any means to restrain it. The ethics codes drafted by universities and written promises from admissions officers not to work for consulting companies are not enough to curb their unscrupulous behavior because none of these means is binding.

The education authorities should enact a law to prohibit admissions officers from taking consulting jobs for a specified time after their university employment, just like the regulations that ban retired prosecutors or judges from taking jobs at private companies for a certain period of time following their terms. Because a relevant bill has already been submitted to the National Assembly, we hope politicians will start discussing the issue soon. Universities should also make an effort to hire admissions officers as regular staff members, not part-timers. Currently, 78 percent of all such officers are part time, which only serves to encourage them to look for work in private companies.
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