The Ministry of Education (MOE) officially announced its plan to gradually abolish the university admission fee from the spring semester of 2018. For Ewha, the complete abolishment is planned to take five years. University admission fee, which was paid by all freshmen mandatorily on top of the tuition, had been a dilemma which students long fought to abolish.
Ewha students used to pay approximately 950,000 won as they entered the school with few exceptions. The most expensive school was Korea University which required students to pay 1,030,000 won. In average, college students nationwide paid 773,000 won to enter a university.
According to the MOE’s official announcement, schools will be gradually decreasing it every year until it gets abolished. The 92 four-year colleges which entrance fee is below the average of 773,000 won will be decreasing the fee by 20 percent every year for the next four years. Schools with over 773,000 won will decrease it 16 percent per year for the next five years. 128 two-year course colleges will be decreasing it by 13.4 percent every year for the next five years.
The existence of university entrance was long controversial. University students nationwide formed criticized that the fee’s main purpose was merely to increase the accumulated private money controlled by the school. They formed Student Council Network to demand the transparency in the usage of the entrance fee and ultimately to abolish it.
“Abolishing the entrance fee that costs up to 1,000,000 won which have no specific purpose is the obvious thing to do,” read the declaration written by the Student Council Network last year. “It’s already proven that significant part of the entrance fee, in fact, is not used on freshmen at all.”
According to the research conducted by MOE last September among 80 universities in the nation, only 14.6 percent of the fee is used on freshmen, whereas one third of it is used for other regular usage of managing the school.
Despite MOE’s announcement, however, the issue seems long from concluding as universities claim that MOE’s announcement fails to contain full consent on their part.
“We’ve never agreed to abolish the entrance fee,” said one staff member working at a private university in Seoul. “But we couldn’t say no to the prospectus that MOE offered. Whether this could actually be carried out is still a question.”
To ease the sudden financial burden that the universities would face with the following plan, MOE offered a guide line where 20 percent of the entrance fee can be newly included as part of the freshmen tuition. This, on the other hand, put students to fret about the effectiveness of the announcement.
“A week has barely passed and the Korean Council for Presidents of Private Universities has already ruptured the agreement by demanding a tuition raise,” said E;ffect, the Student Council of Ewha. “The Student Council Network in return have held three press conferences and received 3,700 signatures to condemn this behavior, and had three conferences with the representatives of university, student, and government.”
E;ffect also noted that students’ action is not over on this part.
“We will continue our action by demanding the entrance fee’s abolishment be acknowledged not only on the MOE’s announcement, but also by law,” they said. “We will demand that the period in which its abolishment gets finalized be closer than five years and hope that Ewha students give close attention to our action.”