A survey conducted by the Ewha Media Center showed that Chung Yoo-ra’s admission and credit fraud, along with the arrest of five professors associated with the scandal has drastically pulled down the reputation of Ewha. According to the survey of 100 high school students and 300 adults residing in Seoul, both respondent groups showed a negative perception towards Ewha. In the survey, 56.4 percent of adults and 62 percent of students said that they had a positive perception towards Ewha before Chung’s admission and credit fraud. However, after Chung’s illicit admission process was revealed, such percentage decreased to 8.3 percent and 13 percent.
The reasons behind Ewha’s declined reputation is closely related to the evident administrative problems. Chung’s admission fraud was fatal to Ewha’s image as a “fair and honest school” and a “school that abides by its fundamental principles.” Ewha scored 2.6 out of 7 for the criterion “Ewha Womans University is fair and honest,” 2.68 out of 7 for criterion “Ewha Womans University practices righteous principles,” 2.83 out of 7 for “Ewha Womans University shows willingness to tackle administrative problems regarding Chung’s admission fraud” and 3.32 out of 7 for “Ewha Womans University acknowledges its responsibility for the admission fraud.” Overall, 18.7 percent of adults and 29 percent of students agreed that “Ewha Womans University is an excellent administrative organization.”
Despite the school’s falling reputation, the respondents still expressed high opinions of Ewha students. In the survey, 63.7 percent of adults agreed that Ewha students were “excellent,” and 57.3 percent of the adult respondents thought Ewha students were “independent.” High school respondents also agreed by 71 and 67 percent to the criteria above. Analysis also showed that respondents who agreed to the press reports “In this incident, students of Ewha voluntarily gathered without a representative and made a new protest culture to find answers through on-line and off-line discussions,” were more likely to view Ewha in a positive light.
“Although the process of the sit-in protest must have been long, hard and frightening, I’m proud of Ewha students who have overcome the crisis together,” said @pudding_timeken, through Twitter. “I think that Ewha students are passionate and enlightened pioneers towards democracy. On the other hand, I feel somewhat apologetic that there isn’t much I can do for the students.”
The survey also asked respondents questions regarding the solutions for the school to recover its reputation. According to the results, the category “Taking disciplinary actions against those involved in the illicit admission and credit fraud” showed the highest response rate, gaining 91.6 percent from adults and 86.0 percent from the students.
“People who favor severe punishment are mostly those who express strong opinions against Ewha,” said Jeong Eun-ju, the chief conductor of the survey. “In other words, Ewha must prioritize taking disciplinary action to regain its reputation.”
The majority of respondents did not think the school was showing efforts to resolve the situation. Jeong explained that the school must comprehend the factors essential to improving the school’s reputation.
Aside from taking disciplinary action, the survey also shows that implementing a transparent admission process is crucial to restoring the school’s image. In the survey, 77.7 percent of respondents agreed that both the school and professors systematically contributed to illicitly admit Chung Yoo-ra. Thus, many believe that the unlawful admission process is not something that happened out of individual effort but rather the organization’s culture and its operation methods.
Chung is especially a sensitive issue, which many citizens identify as their own problem. For the category “Chung’s illicit admission is an important issue to me,” the majority agreed. In Korea where competition is intense, the issue of fairness in college admission is one of the top priorities of social equity. Thus, many believe that the implementation of a transparent admission process is crucial for not only the school but also the whole country.