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Admission fees to be cut from private universities

Nov 29,2017
The Ministry of Education announced Tuesday that from 2022, all private universities in Korea will stop receiving admission fees, the amount and use of which has remained murky and controversial at times.

The government had already decided to scrap admission fees at public universities from next year.

The admission fee ranges from some 150,000 won ($138.82) at public universities to some 1 million won at private universities. The average admission fee at four-year universities was 597,500 won this year. The average was 721,200 won at private universities and 145,900 won at public universities, according to the Korean Council for University Education (KCUE).

The 156 four-year universities in Korea receive a total of some 243.1 billion won in admission fees each year, according to the KCUE.

The Higher Education Act states that “any founder or operator of a school may collect tuition fees and any other charges” but does not specify how the school should use “any other charges.”

“The admission fee is a type of fee that universities request new students to pay,” said an employee of the planning office of a private university in Seoul. “All universities have different levels of admission fees because each can choose the level according to their needs.”

In October of last year, the South Korean Federation of University Students Councils filed a lawsuit against universities, requesting a refund of the admission fees.

“The admission fee, whose use is unclear to the newly admitted students, is an abuse of power by the universities,” the group said.

The Moon Jae-in government has been pushing for the complete abolishment of the admission fee system at universities in Korea, as the administration outlined in its five-year plan in July, which it said will help reduce financial pressure on the students. In the agreement between the Education Ministry and the Korean Association of Private University Presidents, the universities are to reduce the admission fees by stages every year to 20 percent of the current level by 2022.

This is because the ministry found only some 20 percent of the admission fees currently being charged as being used for the admission process of the students.

The Education Ministry will fund the universities some 20 percent of what they are charging as admission fees until 2022. From 2022, the universities will no longer charge admission fees, but incorporate the 20 percent of current level of admission fee into their tuition and the government will pay for it through scholarships.

Private universities had requested the Education Ministry to acknowledge that some 40 percent of the admission fees are being used for student admission process, but this request was denied by the ministry.

“Larger universities are suffering because many of them have not been able to raise the tuitions and now with this drop in admission fees, the quality of education may take a hit,” said an employee of the planning office of a private university in Seoul.

BY YUN SUK-MAN, NAM YOON-SEO [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]