52 schools to be excluded from Education Ministry's fundingThe Ministry of Education is facing backlash after denying financial support to dozens of higher education institutes, including prominent universities in Seoul.
The Ministry of Education and Korean Educational Development Institute announced Tuesday that 52 schools will not be eligible for the 2022 to 2024 General Financial Support Fund.
The General Financial Support Fund is a governmental fund for the nation's four-year universities, two-year universities and vocational schools that pass a basic competency evaluation which grades schools on criteria such as their curriculum, percentage of full-time professors and employment rate of graduated students.
Well-known universities such as Inha University and Sungshin Women's University, along with nine other schools in Seoul, did not pass the 2021 evaluation to receive the ministry's funding for the next three years.
Also excluded from the list were six universities in Daegu and North Gyeongsang, three universities in the Jeolla provinces and Jeju Island, two universities in Busan, Ulsan and South Gyeongsang, and five universities in the Chungcheong provinces and Gangwon.
Meanwhile, 233 out of the 319 education institutes that applied were selected as General Financial Support Fund recipients. This means 73 percent of the schools that applied for the fund qualified.
With fall semester just around the corner, schools that did not qualify for the fund are worrying about their future finances and image.
"The Ministry of Education's results really put a damper on the mood here," said a staff member at Sungshin Women's University. "No one was expecting this."
Inha University released a statement saying they cannot accept the result.
Some say that the bar to pass the evaluation was set too high.
One Inha University staff member noted that the school did not pass the evaluation even though they scored perfectly on three of the six categories.
"We will file for a re-evaluation," they said.
"It's true that perfectly fine universities without any major defects are narrowly eliminated from receiving this government fund just by 0.1 to 0.2 points," said Chang Je-kuk, president of The Korean Council for University Education, a private association for four-year universities in Korea.
"This kind of announcement can be devastating for schools that are getting ready to recruit students for a new semester in September."
The backlash reached into the political sphere as well.
"This decision is definitely a result of politics or related government ministries," said Kim Byeong-jin, head of the planning and innovation team at the Korean Council for University Education.
Kim also warned that tuition hikes may come next if the ministry does not widen its distribution of funding.
"Most universities have frozen tuition fees over the past 13 years, and their finances have been ruined," Kim continued. "If the General Financial Support Fund is not given to more schools, they will have no choice but to raise tuition fees."
The size of the government financial support for 2022 has not been determined yet, but the 2021 average was 48.3 billion won ($41 million) for four-year universities and 37 billion won for two-year universities and vocational schools.
The Ministry of Education claims their list will not negatively impact students as state scholarships and student loans will still be offered without any changes.
"It is wrong to view the eliminated schools as institutions which only offer limited financial support," said a ministry's official.
The official added that the results announced at this time are not final. Schools can file for re-evaluations until the end of August.
In 2018, 29 schools appealed, but the results remained unchanged.
BY MOON HYEON-KYEONG, LEE JIAN [firstname.lastname@example.org]