Ministry cracks down on agencies’ ‘1+3 program’

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Ministry cracks down on agencies’ ‘1+3 program’

The Ministry of Education yesterday vowed stern punishments for private agencies arranging overseas study that advertise “1+3 abroad” programs, which target high school seniors by promising them admission into state universities in the United States in exchange for simply submitting a high school diploma and a personal essay.

“We ask parents and students to take special heed of these advertisements touted by overseas study agencies, which claim students can spend one year studying at a local college and then spend the next three academic years in an American university,” Education Minister Seo Nam-soo said in a statement released yesterday. “Local colleges that participate in this program will also be dealt with stern administrative punishments.”

The strongly worded announcement from the ministry comes after a number of private overseas agencies were caught advertising such fraudulent study programs, which the ministry said are illegal.

The ministry also said that it had asked the prosecution to investigate study agencies that have campaigned for such programs.

Under the 1+3 program, private agencies claim students can be admitted to a four-year state university in the United States just by submitting their school transcripts and a diploma and attending an interview with the agency’s staff.

No English-proficiency test scores, such as those from Toefl, or a U.S. college entrance exam, are required, agencies claim in their advertisements.

After being admitted to U.S. universities, the agencies say a student must spend his or her freshman year at a local university as an “exchange student” from the American school. And after completing their first year, they may then spend the remaining three academic years in the United States.

“The agencies’ advertisements are completely phony,” said Kim Hong-sun, a ministry official on the university policy team. “How can someone be an exchange student of a university in the U.S. when he or she has not even been to the country? The ministry will take strong action against private overseas companies if they are found to be luring students with such advertisements.”

The official added that agencies that continue to advertise the 1+3 program could be forcibly shut down.

Overseas study agencies have claimed that a total of 25 local schools have signed agreements with universities in the United States agreeing to accept Korean students, though the ministry said yesterday that none of the 25 mentioned schools had any such signed agreements.

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