Three Yonsei profs accused in admissions scam

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Three Yonsei profs accused in admissions scam

Three professors at Yonsei University in western Seoul are accused of rigging admissions procedures for ice hockey athletes who applied in late 2018, allowing some to get wrongfully accepted.

The Seoul Western District Court on Wednesday issued pretrial detention warrants for the three Yonsei suspects plus a fourth professor from a different university, who were all involved in the admissions process, mostly as judges of candidates in their respective fields.

Prosecutors from the Seoul Western District Prosecutors’ Office had filed for the warrants Monday, on charges of obstruction of business.

It was not immediately known how many applicants got accepted who shouldn’t have.

According to data from the Korea University Sport Federation, Yonsei University offered at least nine admissions slots for ice hockey athletes that year, of which seven were quotas for the department of physical education and two for the department of sport industry studies. The students who were accepted began school in the spring semester of 2019.

Prosecutors said they would continue to investigate whether the professors were bribed in exchange for favoring certain applicants.

Yonsei University said in a statement Wednesday that it would wait for the court’s decision and “strictly handle” the case after a verdict.

The rigging suspicions arose in late 2018, five days before the admissions results were about to be announced by Yonsei, when the government learned that a list of successful candidates had been leaked in sports circles.

When Yonsei University announced its admissions, eight of the students admitted were on the leaked list. Yonsei University launched an internal probe into the leak but said it found no irregularities.

The Ministry of Education followed up with its own probe in January 2019 and announced in March that three judges who assessed ice hockey applicants for the physical education department allegedly rigged the students’ scores by randomly creating their own criteria and offering extra points to certain students.

Those three judges and another person who wasn’t identified were alleged to have received bribes, though prosecutors aren’t sure yet whether any transactions actually occurred.

According to the ministry’s findings, one judge allegedly changed an applicant’s score in the first document-screening step four times “without a specific reason.” Another judge allegedly gave perfect scores to nine applicants despite their lack of qualifications.

The Education Ministry asked prosecutors to investigate the four suspects on allegations of obstruction of business and receiving bribes.

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