The nation’s public and private universities will face a sweeping audit by the Board of Audit and Inspection from August, amid a growing public outcry over exorbitant tuition fees, officials at the state audit agency said Friday.
“It will be the largest-ever scale,” said Sohn Chang-dong, a BAI spokesperson. About 200, or one third of the entire BAI staff, will be mobilized for the inspection, which will begin in August, he said. A preliminary examination will begin next month to prepare for the full-scale audit, he added.
The BAI plans to look into overall finances of the universities, with a particular focus on the way they set tuition levels, the official said.
The move comes as thousands of students, civic groups and politicians were expected to gather at Seoul’s Gwanghwamun area Friday evening for the largest-ever candle light vigil urging the government to come up with measures to relieve the tuition burden.
College tuition fees in Korea are the second highest among OECD member countries, after the United States.
Last year, the average annual university tuition fee reached 7.5 million won ($6,918) for private schools and 5 million won for national and public schools.
In the United States, where public universities make up almost 70 percent of schools, the fee for a state university is $5,943 on average. In Korea, most of the schools (87 percent) are privately owned.
“The examination should also provide an objective and neutral look into the situation for policymakers with respect to the controversial tuition-cut issue,” BAI secretary general Chung Chang-young said.
By Lee Sun-young (firstname.lastname@example.org