When comparing the primary universities’ dormitories in Seoul, Yonsei University students pay 620,000 won per month, which is roughly 200,000 won more expensive than surrounding one-room average rents. In Korea University, dorm prices for individual rooms are 502,000 won, also 120,000 won more costly than that of one-rooms near the school.
Although one-rooms have deposits that are between 10 million to 20 million won, students receive all the deposits by the end of the contract. In this regard, it is clear that some school dorms are more expensive than one-room or boarding houses’ rents.
The reason for overpriced rates of school dorms is that the government separates dormitories as “support facilities” rather than “facilities for education basis.” Thus, the expenses for building and renovating the dormitories are almost entirely up to the universities themselves, receiving little support from the government.
Also, the state law defining on-campus accommodation facilities as part of the minimum requirement for campus building is now in disuse, which led to many universities’ failure in providing and improving on-campus accommodation. According to KHEI (Korea Higher Education Institute), in 2014, the accommodation rate of metropolitan universities’ dormitories was 13.8 percent, even less than the rate of 1994, which was 15 percent.
However, some universities are doing what they can to reduce the burden for students living in dorms. Yonsei University is building new dorms in Songdo campus with plans for students to pay 1.3 million won per semester in two-person rooms and 800,000 won in three-person rooms. Thus, students only have to pay 325,000 won and 200,000 won per month respectively, tremendously reducing the economic burden upon students.
In the case of Ewha Womans University, the dorm expenses are 860,000 won per semester for two-person rooms, and 430,000 won per month for individual rooms.
“Ewha dormitory is not expensive compared to nearby one-rooms as the building provides various facilities that students would not be able to acquire if they lived outside the dorms,” said an official of Hanwoori Hall, Ewha's dormitory. “Health center, internet cafe PC rooms, lounges, seminar rooms and study rooms are all facilities that the dorm provides to students for their convenience. We have no additional maintenance costs or deposits that can burden students economically, and we allow students in financial difficulty to divide payments while offering part time jobs in the dormitory to lessen the economic problem.”
Ewha is also building additional dorms which will accommodate an addition of 2,500 students. It plans to divide the dorms into six buildings and reduce utility expenses through eco-friendly architecture.
“The dormitory will be ready to accept students by the year of 2016,” said an official from Hanwoori Hall. “The price of the dorms will be carefully set according to the current market price, and after the completion of the building, the dormitory is planning ways to establish official systems to let students divide their payments or allow to pay with credit cards.”
The government is also pursuing methods for universities to reduce dormitory fees. Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport along with Ministry of Education (MOE) have chosen Seoyeong University, Kyung Hee University, Dankook University, Daegu Haany University, and Chungbuk Health & Science University as six public dormitories which can accommodate 1,784 students and opened new dorms early this year.
Public dormitories are government-funded dorms which offer students rooms in much lower prices than school dorms or even one-rooms. MOE is also planning to support the establishment of a new dormitory which will be built in a location where accommodation rate is low. The dorm will hold 18,294 students and the ministry plans to invest 6.684 trillion won.