The Ministry of Education (MOE) announced its University Structural Reform plan on Nov. 11. According to this plan, the MOE will evaluate and classify universities according to five levels: highest, excellent, average, unsatisfactory, and very unsatisfactory.
The evaluation will take effect in 2015 after the plan goes through discussions in the National Assembly.
The reform was planned as a low birthrate and an aging society have become ongoing social problems and changed the overall population structure in Korea. By 2018, the total enrollment quota of universities is estimated to exceed the number of high school graduates by about 9,146 students.
“By the time President Park Geun-hye completes her term in 2018, there will be a serious problem of student shortage,” said an official of the MOE who wishes to remain anonymous. “Before the next government’s term starts, the current government should effectively complete structural reform in order to relieve the shock from the student population decrease and, at the same time, improve the quality of Korea’s higher education.”
Thus, the MOE has come up with a plan to reduce the enrollment quota of each university according to the evaluation it receives in the scheme noted above.
The evaluation will be conducted through a qualitative method rather than a quantitative way, which includes the university’s student employment rate. The MOE will evaluate the university’s characteristics, regional conditions, contribution to local society, and strategy for developing an educational focus. During the entire process, the government plans to evaluate universities in the fairest way possible.
“A really important part of this reform plan is the evaluation committee,” said Seo Nam-Soo, Minister of Education, in the Sunday Talk program on Korea Broadcasting System. “The committee will comprise professionals not directly connected to the government, education field, or university.”
After completing the process, the MOE will require universities to reduce the enrollment quota according to their evaluation. Those universities with the highest evaluations will be allowed to reduce the student quota as they see fit. For universities with any of the remaining four evaluations, the student quota reduction will be compulsory and will have to follow the government’s standards. Universities with the lowest evaluations, those with “very unsatisfactory,” will be required to shut down.