Government may group universities by region

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Government may group universities by region

As early as next year, national universities may be grouped by region, sharing classes, academic programs, credit systems and degrees. If implemented, students may take different courses at different universities consolidated under one region, then receive a diploma enlisting different universities under that consolidation.

Education Minister Lee Joon-sik recently proposed the idea to the ministry’s department heads and directors as part of the university restructuring process, according to a ministry official.

The ministry has commenced research on the consolidation policy, and the mapping of national universities’ consolidation by region may begin as early as next year. The proposed plan is that, within each regional area, individual universities will specialize in different majors. For instance, for Daegu and North Gyeongsang, Kyungpook National University, Kumoh National Institute of Technology (KIT) and Andong National University will be grouped together, with KIT focusing on electronics studies, Kyungpook National University on information technology and Andong National University on humanities. The Education Ministry is not planning on mandating the national universities to consolidate by region, but to make the policy a voluntary one to reward consolidated universities with financial support.

Incorporated national universities, such as Seoul National University and Incheon National University, will be excluded from consolidation, as the policy is meant to assist the development of local national universities that are struggling. Furthermore, the Education Ministry does not want its new proposal to be labeled as another attempt to abolish Seoul National University; in 2012, the now-defunct Democratic United Party suggested a similar consolidation, but opponents were successful in painting it as an attempt to abolish one of the nation’s most revered educational institutions.

This time, the Education Ministry said, each university under consolidation will maintain independent administration.

BY NAM YOON-SEO [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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