DUP considers dismantling Korea’s top university

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DUP considers dismantling Korea’s top university

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The chief policy maker of the Democratic United Party said Sunday his party is considering dismantling Seoul National University, Korea’s most prestigious education institution, as its official platform for the December presidential election.

Lee Yong-sup of the main opposition party said the DUP has been discussing ways to integrate national universities, including SNU, and form an alliance with other national universities to exchange credits, lectures and professors to reform the country’s national university system. Under the plan, the alliance will consist of SNU and other national universities such as the Kyungpook and Chonnam universities. It also plans to bestow joint degrees to students of all national universities. Lee said the potential pledge for the major election is modeled on France’s National University system.

“National universities in France are categorized as University of Paris I, University of Paris II, and so on, each campus a part of the alliance,” explained the lawmaker. The representative said his party will take similar approaches to the integration efforts, saying, “If the reform is implemented, the names of each national university will be replaced with titles such as National University at Seoul or National University at North Gyeongsang.”

In order to prevent a situation in which the future National University at Seoul remains unchanged in its status even after the reform, “dispersing all of SNU’s undergraduate programs to regional national university campuses could be an option,” he said.

With the plan realized, SNU will become a graduate-program-centered institution. The DUP claims its reform will ensure an even distribution of talent across the nation. Lee claims that without such a profound change to the current education system, Korea will always suffer from “excessive competition in college entrance” and “rampant academic cliques.”

The integration pledge is similar to the one championed by the Unified Progressive Party in the April elections. The UPP argued that the integration would lead to a breaking down of university rankings and a normalization of the education system, which it claims is plagued by the fierce college-entrance competition. The minor party also claimed the integration would contribute to balanced growth. Among presidential runners, Sohn Hak-kyu of the DUP called for a joint degree system.

By Kim Gyeong-jin, Kang Jin-kyu [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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