The school proposed an Ewha Emergency Fundraising which is meant to support the livelihood of Ewha students who are financially affected by the coronavirus outbreak last April 10. However, COVID-19 Relief Scholarship supported by the fund is raising questions among students.
The 52nd Central Steering Commission of Student Representatives conducted a survey regarding the scholarship for a day after its proposal. With 1,384 students participating, 84.4 percent of respondents thought the requirements to receive the scholarship were inappropriate.
One of the conditions at stake concerned the decile dispersion ratio. The ratio refers to how much a family earns compared to the median, higher ratio representing bigger wealth. The scholarship requires the recipient to prove that the family’s decile dispersion ratio is below nine.
Moreover, the official decile dispersion ratio document requested by the school is the one provided by the Korea Student Aid Foundation for this year’s first semester. Korea Student Aid Foundation issues the documents only between a limited period of time which in this case was between Feb. 3 and March 10. Thus, students who have not applied for the certificate or whose family has been affected by the outbreak much later in time were excluded.
Kim Min-ha, a student from Electronic and Electrical Engineering has shared her thoughts.
“When I issued the decile dispersion ratio certificate, it was before COVID-19 had a serious impact throughout the country,” Kim said. “Although the outbreak affected our family’s income greatly, it was not evident in the document.”
Kim added it would have been more reasonable if the school collected documents about recent variance in income instead of the decile dispersion ratio.
Voices among Ewha communities such as Everytime also pointed out the possibility of forgery concerning the documents meant to prove the impact of the outbreak on the student, which denote losing one’s part-time job.
According to the announcement regarding the COVID-19 Relief Scholarship, a student can replace official records with the document the school suggests. To prove the discontinuity of a student’s part-time job, all they would need to prepare is a proof of confirmation from the business proprietor that states one has lost the job due to the virus.
Furthermore, students who are on leave from school this semester or have already received other assistive scholarships are not applicable to this scholarship.
Ewha Voice interviewed Lee Hae-sook, the General Manager of Scholarship and Welfare under the Office of Student Affairs, to clarify the issues concerning the scholarship.
Debate on equity of scholarship leaves doubts
Concerning the requirements to receive the scholarship, Lee commented the team had foreseen deficiencies as well.
“In case of using the decile dispersion ratio, despite understanding it has defects, it was the most official and renowned type of document we can ask for a student,” Lee said. “Also, we expected the student’s family would have the financial power to get over the crisis if the decile dispersion ratio exceeded nine.”
Oh Hee-ah, the president of the 52nd General Student Council, Emotion, also gave some comments.
“Many people are suffering from economic difficulties due to the virus outbreak, and Ewha students are no exception,” said Oh.
The last issue that arose with the proposal of COVID-19 Relief Scholarship involved its relevance with students’ call for tuition reduction.
Oh asserted that the Office of School Affairs initially mentioned the fundraiser as a project to deal with tuition reduction.
“There was a meeting between us and the Office of Student Affairs on April 17, shortly after we conducted a protest calling for tuition reduction,” Oh said.
“In the meeting the Office of Student Affairs mentioned that they are aware of the students’ call on tuition refund and said they are proceeding with a fundraiser due to the lack of school funds to provide scholarships. And the scholarship proposed right after the meeting was COVID-19 Relief Scholarship.”
Oh explained that however, although the head of Office of Student Affairs later denied relevance between tuition reduction and COVID-19 Relief Scholarship, the repudiation has the student representatives yet doubtful.