BAI finds several big loopholes in admission system

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BAI finds several big loopholes in admission system

Students from well-off families are getting into university slots for the underprivileged, the state watchdog said yesterday, casting doubt on the newly adopted admission officer system.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology launched the so-called admission officer system in universities in 2008 to loosen up the rigid Korean admission system.

In it, professors and outside experts select a certain percentage of applicants by looking at their entire record, not just their CSAT scores. The intention was to admit students with more creative records, impressive extracurricular activities and also students with underprivileged backgrounds.

Currently, about 10 percent of students in universities nationwide are selected by the special admission system.

But the Board of Audit and Inspection yesterday told media that it has inspected about 50 universities from May and found a series of loopholes in the system.

It said admission officers didn’t confirm the household incomes of some applicants, allowing a slew of rich kids to get seats meant for the underprivileged.

The BAI suspects a total of 479 students of lying about living in the countryside to get into schools. It said some high schools wrote references for the students even though they apparently knew about their address fabrication.

Most of the 479 students are attending universities in Seoul, according to the BAI. Korea University had the largest number with allegedly false residence registrations, the BAI said, followed by Sogang University, Ewha Womans University, Hanyang University, Sungkyunkwan University and Seoul National University.

The Education Ministry told local media yesterday it will withdraw admissions of those students if the BAI’s suspicions prove true.

Some applicants overstated how long they had studied abroad to take advantage of a preference for students who had lived abroad for more than two years. One parent made up a divorce to exploit a preference for children of single parents.

The BAI said the admission officer system isn’t fulfilling one of its goals - to curb the use of cram schools and tutors - because the students still use them to learn things that are good on applications through the system.

Another problem is that the outside experts hired as admission officers aren’t very good.

About 90 percent of them have master’s degrees or doctorates in psychology or education, but they don’t know much about students or how high schools work.

The outside officers are also temporary workers who aren’t paid well, leading to poor evaluations.

But withdrawing admissions already given to students won’t be easy, the BAI said.

“Some universities are arguing that they will withdraw admissions for students who cheated on their applications, but it’s been going on for years and there are some legal issues,” a BAI official told Yonhap News Agency. “So it won’t lead to a mass withdrawal of admissions.”


By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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