Two poorly managed colleges forced to close

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Two poorly managed colleges forced to close

Two universities in South Jeolla, Myungshin University and Sunghwa College, will be forced to shut down next month by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology for failing to meet the government’s minimum higher education standards.

The closures represent the ministry’s first concrete steps to weed out poorly managed colleges and raise the country’s minimum standards for institutions of higher education as part of its new no-tolerance policy that was instituted earlier this year.

The two schools have been accused of various corrupt practices, such as embezzlement and giving undeserved grades and attendance credit to students. Current students at the two schools will be transferred to nearby universities under the same or similar departments, the ministry said.

Sunghwa College’s 2,762 students will be able to transfer to one of 14 universities nearby, while Myungshin University’s 537 students will be able to transfer to one of seven nearby universities. The schools will be forbidden from recruiting and admitting students from next month.

The ministry said the two schools had been warned twice since early September to institute immediate changes to avoid closure but failed to fulfill the requirements by the deadline. Under the country’s Higher Education Act, the government has the authority to shut down schools that fail to maintain sustainable operations.

Myungshin University was ordered to restore billions of won in school funds that had been embezzled by the school’s founder and officials by Sept. 27, and Sunghwa College was told to return 6.5 billion won ($5.9 million) that had been embezzled by its founder by Oct. 1.

The ministry said, however, that Myungshin University had only fulfilled five of the ministry’s 17 requirements while Sunghwa College had only fulfilled one out of 20.

Myungshin University’s corporate foundation will not be immediately disbanded, the ministry said, because it has an endowed high school in Mokpo. The corporate foundation of Sunghwa College, on the other hand, will be disbanded in December.

In response to the ministry’s announcement, Myungshin University filed a complaint with the Seoul Administrative Court last month. Sunghwa College also expressed during the ministry’s investigation that it was “willing to take legal actions.”

Minister of Education, Science and Technology Lee Ju-ho said yesterday in a press conference that poorly run schools would be shut down to “protect students’ right to learn and to guarantee a minimum quality of university education,” adding that “the ministry will take similar actions with other universities that are in similar situations [as the two universities to be closed].”

By Yim Seung-hye []
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