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Two universities to be shut down for corruption

Aug 24,2017
The Ministry of Education began to shut down two universities on Wednesday that repeatedly failed to comply with requests to address corruption scandals and crippled administrations.

Daegu University of Foreign Studies (DUFS) in Gyeongsan, North Gyeongsang, and Hanzhong University in Donghae, Gangwon, will shut down in February, at the end of the academic year, once the ministry doles out its final decision in October.

The Education Ministry said it asked the universities for the third time since April to correct their administrations, but its requests were not met.

DUFS faked documents to say it had secured 700 million won ($619,404) at its establishment in 2003, which it was legally required to do to establish the university. The amount was not secured, the Education Ministry found in its inspection in 2015.

Hanzhong University’s founder and then-president in 2004 embezzled 27.7 billion won, of which 24.4 billion won has not been returned to the university. The university was also found to have withheld salaries to its professors and staff, totaling 33.3 billion won by 2016.

“The Education Ministry will be summoning the university administrators and legal bodies for hearings 20 days from now,” the ministry said.

Once the hearings are completed around October, the ministry will announce its final decision to close the two universities. Students at DUFS and Hanzhong are to transfer to other universities in the vicinity. DUFS has 469 students as of April 2016, and Hanzhong University has some 1,442 students as of May.

Professors and staff members of the two universities will not be guaranteed jobs at universities in the vicinity.

“The amendment to the bill submitted at the National Assembly last year on the structural reform of universities says staff members of scrapped universities should be supported, but we don’t know if the amendment will be passed by lawmakers,” said Lee Jae-ryuk, head of the Education Ministry’s private university policy department.

“The ministry is looking to see if it can help them secure positions at other universities by using funds form the Korea Foundation for the Promotion of Private Schools.”

The ministry is also seeking to submit an amendment to the Private School Act to enable the government to receive the remaining assets of a university after it is shut down.

Current law states the remaining assets are to go to whoever is designated to receive them in the university’s establishment papers. Oftentimes the designees are the founders or their relatives.

“Lawmakers are working to end corruption at educational institutes,” Lee said. “So we are hopeful that the amendment will be passed before the two universities’ asset issues are resolved, which can take two to three years.”

DUFS and Hanzhong received a failing grade of E, on a scale of A to E, in the Education Ministry’s nationwide inspection of universities in 2015, intended to determine whether schools can continue operation. The two universities then failed to comply with the ministry’s requests to improve.

“The ministry decided to shut them down because the possibility of calling in a third party to finance them was quite slim,” Lee said.

A total of 12 universities have been shut down in Korea, four of which are four-year universities. There are some 200 four-year universities here.

BY JEON MIN-HEE [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]