Students question necessity of tuition fees even while not taking lecturesIn the continuing struggle for employment, a new phenomenon is appearing within universities: pre-graduates postponing graduation when they already finalized their grade credits. In schools, the so-called “5th graders” have been increasing, and what makes it worse is that schools are now demanding extra fee from the students.
In the recent two years, the number of students holding off their graduation has doubled, from 8,270 students in 2011 to 104,975 in 2013. In 2014, seniors delaying their departure from schools are 105,239 up-to-date, which already bypass the population of last year.
Along with the increasing numbers, the universities are introducing this postponing policy. This year, up to 33 schools have put the policy of postponing graduation into effect.
The reason for this increasing numbers is clear. Students do not want to leave a blank period when they are neither students nor employees. They do not want to be imprinted as “unemployed” no matter how brief that period is, and even companies favor fresh graduates rather than the former. As it is in the schools’ best interests to look after their students, the 33 universities that support the postponing policy can be considered as taking care of their students. However, out of those 33 universities, 24 universities demand extra money or force these seniors to take classes, which causes students to protest and question the postponing policy rather than be grateful about it.
As mentioned above, the seniors have completed their grade requirements so they do not need to take classes, yet 12 out of 33 schools demand 100,000 to 270,000 won of extra fee from them. The other 12 schools enforce these seniors to take a class and are stretching their wallets by paying up to maximum 700,000 won.
For instance, in Yonsei University, postponement policy is put into effect under the condition these seniors take classes and pay up to 500,000 won. Other schools such as Dankook University require the students to pay 187,000 won while Kyonggi University charged one-twelfth of the tuition fee to these students.
The universities insist the tuition is for using school facilities such as libraries. Students have responded to the explanation of the schools in different ways.
“There are many friends who put off graduation or thinking of it, and they often talk about the expense,” said a student of Kyonggi University who wishes to remain anonymous. “For a student, it is true that imposing additional expense before getting a job is a burden. In a way, postponing graduation is the students’ choice. So I think this is an expense for personal responsibility.”
However, some students considered this policy unreasonable.
“The upper grade students do not have much opportunity to express their opinions freely compared to the freshmen and sophomores who participate actively in the student council,” Han Jeong-min (Yonsei University, 2) said. “Therefore I think it is unfair that the school taking advantage of this situation. If the additional expenses are simply for using the facilities, the school needs to open the maintenance cost to the public and explain clearly why the additional expenses are charged.”
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