[EDITORIALS]Let Colleges Reward Contributors

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[EDITORIALS]Let Colleges Reward Contributors

Controversy is expected to heat up as Yonsei University has decided to give admissions preference to the descendants of people who have contributed the university in a non-material way - over the opposition of the Education Ministry. To the contrary, the ministry continues to insist that "preferential admission is not allowed whether it is non-material or not."

The introduction of special admissions has long been discussed. People who support the idea say that it is necessary for a university's financial well being. The school depends for most of its financial support on student tuition payments, and it is having a hard time increasing the tuition against student resistance. Government support does not even reach 10 percent of the school's actual operational costs. Supporters also insist that many students could benefit from the contributions because the money could be used for more scholarships to students.

Opponents of the policy worry that preferential admission could generate a sense of disharmony among different social classes, since it contravenes the idea of equal education opportunity according to students' academic abilities. They argue that rich universities will get richer and poor universities poorer because contributions may flow only to certain schools.

There are always pros and cons to any policy. But society must produce competent people if it is to survive in this highly competitive knowledge-based era. For that, universities should first be competent themselves. The improvement of financially unstable schools is unrealistic. The problem with education finance cannot be solved just by public sentiment or social justice. It is a contradiction to prohibit individual colleges from selecting students through preferential admissions or according to their foundation philosophy at the same time they are admitting students from rural areas separately from regular students.

Instead of avoiding the issue, we should confront it actively. Let colleges first allow priority to non-materiel contributors. They will then be able to develop and extend the policy to more students. Of course rules to prevent illegal dealings and guarantee transparent use of contributions should be set up as well.

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