Many universities have increased tuition for international students after the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) controversial abolition of the tuition cap for international students last December. According to article 11 of the higher education act, the increase rate of university tuition could not exceed 1.5 times the rate of consumer price of the previous three years. Before the abolition of the cap, this article applied to international and Korean students alike in most universities. However, with the MOE’s liberalization of this tuition cap, international students are no longer under this exemption.
Those who agree with the policy claim that it is more reasonable as it is more costly to educate international students, while those against the abolition argue that there should be no discrimination between Korean and international students. In response to the increased tuition, Hanyang University commented that more expenses are spent for international students in general in order to maintain living costs abroad.
As a result, many universities have increased tuition for international students this year: Dong-guk University by 3 percent, Hanyang and Chung-ang University by 5 percent and Kyung-hee University by 7 percent.
In response to this decision, the Student Government Associations (SGA) of Hanyang and Korea University spoke up in defense of the international students. The Hanyang and Korea University SGAs held a joint press conference in front of Government Complex-Seoul mid-February, condemning the university’s decision.
“The school said the reason for increasing tuition is to expand the infrastructure for international students such as translation and cultural support,” said a member of SGA of Hanyang University. “However, it is inappropriate of the school to pass on their responsibility of the costs for infrastructure on international students by raising their tuition. The school had to prepare enough before it admits international students.”
Korea University claimed that on the assumption that the increase rate had accumulated until the abolishment of the tuition cap, the increase rate would be 15 to 18 percent. Korea University named the act “tuition normalization,” and suggested discussing tuition for Korean and international students further after normalizing the tuition for international students first. However, the increase in tuition for international students was finally withdrawn in the fifth tuition deliberation committee.
Regarding this matter, Korea University’s SGA says more discussion is needed.
“When we looked at the survey of Korea University students, there was a considerable amount of positive responses towards raising tuition for international students,” said a member of SGA of Korea University. “In this situation, the school needs to state its position considering the grounds for raising the tuition, students’ opinions, and the future effect it will have on Korean students as a whole.”