High Tuition Raise Sparkes Controversy In Colleges
High Tuition Raise Sparkes Controversy In Colleges
  • Ewha Voice
  • 승인 2006.04.05 00:00
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▲ Photo by Song Hye-won (left) Photo by Kim Ji-sun (right)The president and the vice president of the SGA are shaving their heads in protest (left). University students staged a candlelight vigil at Sinchon opposing to the tuition raise (right).

   Since the beginning of this year, many students have staged protests to oppose the high increase of tuition rates. Yonsei University raised 12 percent of its tuition and other private universities raised an average of nine percent. Students have urged that the tuition raise rate be under the 3.5 percent of the national inflation rate.
   Ewha is no exception. Although the 5.8 percent tuition raise was lower than the average rate, Ewha's total annual tuition was still the highest in the nation. Students' complaints also concerned the amount of tuition money directly returned to students in the form of scholarships, expenses for researches, and facility management. According to the data provided by the Korea Foundation for the Promotion of Private School,   Ewha was not among the top 20 universities in expenditure per student.
   On March 15, the SGA attempted to meet President Shin In-ryung to discuss an alternative to the high tuition. After the meeting failed to occur, the SGA conducted a general rally on March 16 where about 300 Ewha students gathered in front of the   Student Union Building and SGA president Lee Ji-youn (Sociology, 4) and vice president Kim Soo-hyun (Social Studies Education, 4) shaved their heads in protest.  Then, Lee and Kim led students to the Pfeiffer Hall to continue the protest.
   Students' reactions were mixed. Some Ewha students expressed strong sympathy with the SGA? protests. "I was strongly impressed by Lee and Kim? shaving their heads. The school should be aware that they should work out to solve this problem," said Kim Ji-young (English Lang. & Lit., 2).
   On the other hand, there were students who did not see the protest as efficacious. "I think the SGA is concentrating too much on the tuition raise. The SGA should focus on things like making an effort on improving circumstances and welfare facilities of the campus," said Ha Soo-hyun (Law, 1).
   Protests opposing expensive tuition have not been limited to Ewha. On March 15, about 100 students from Ewha, Hongik, Yonsei, and Sogang University gathered at  Sinchon for a candlelight protest. During the protest, participants asked schools to freeze tuition, return money held in reserve, look for expanded donations from their school foundations, and work for greater national support.
   The school administration maintains that it is not easy for the school to return monetary reserves or freeze tuition. According to the director of Financial Affairs, students?tuition accounts for 46 percent, which is the largest proportion of the school budget because national support and donations from the school foundation only make up a small portion of its finances.
   Meanwhile, at other schools like Sungkyunkwan University, negotiations have been more successful. The Sungkyunkwan SGA "Young-one" succeeded in negotiating a tuition raise rate of 7.3 percent after an initial school proposal of a 9.8 percent raise, according to the vice president of the Young-one, Kim Yoon-hwa (Sungkyunkwan University, 4). "Instead of protesting against the school, we negotiated a promise of three billion won of additional scholarships for poor students," said Kim.

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