Overhaul special college admissionsPrime Minister Kim Hwang-sik announced yesterday that the government will drastically improve the controversial special admissions to college as a top priority in the administration’s long-touted efforts to realize a fair society. As uncovered in the Board of Audit and Inspection’s investigation into rampant corruption with the current system allowing special admission to universities for high school students from remote rural areas, vocational schools and arts and athletic schools across the country, the issue cannot be left unsettled any longer.
We first welcome the government’s decision to upgrade the system with the goal of rooting out prevalent corruption in special admissions to college, given the deepening worries that the Lee Myung-bak administration has actually backpedaled on the pivotal issue of college admission since it granted universities a jurisdiction over it.
To address the crisis, the government reportedly plans to raise the special admission requirements probably as an expedient way to tackle it. It seems to believe that it is enough at the moment to sort out only those ill-intentioned people who attempt to take advantage of the special system.
Such an approach, however, cannot be a fundamental solution to the problem. As seen in the past, students and parents - and the colleges which willfully turn a blind eye to their illegal behavior - were all able to find a loophole in the system to the extent that it shakes the foundation of the system. Students who were found to have submitted falsified documents on their residence and academic records were banned from entering colleges for the school year only, and admission officials at universities who collaborated with the parents and high schools only received light penalties as a reprimand from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. To put it simply, they all could enjoy bigger gains than losses thanks to the overly lenient punishment for unconscionable behavior.
The government must come up with stern measures to let all the accomplices pay the due price for destroying a quintessential value of our society: trust. First, the education ministry must prohibit high school students involved in a special admission scam from entering colleges for at least three years. Universities also must receive strong disadvantages such as remarkable reduction of their entrance quota. That’s the only way for them to accept qualified students who deserve special benefits on college admission. The government must not allow such a shameful admission scam to occur in the future.