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GNP floor leader spurs tuition talks

Grand National Party floor leader Hwang Woo-yea urged the parliamentary education committee to accelerate the university tuition cut discussions and come up with detailed measures by the beginning of the fall semester.

“I have been told that the education committee has made little progress lately,” said Rep. Hwang in the ruling party’s floor meeting on Tuesday.

“Should the committee fail to reach a conclusion soon enough, I suggest we pass on the issue to a separate special committee, consisting of parliament and government officials.”

Hwang also said in a radio interview that the committee should be given a deadline by which to reach an agreement.

His counterpart, Rep. Kim Jin-pyo of the main opposition Democratic Party, urged the GNP to speed up its tuition talks in order to bring up the issue in the upcoming August provisional session.

“The current administration and the ruling party have already twice fooled the people by reversing their tuition cut policies,” Kim said.

“The GNP is to resume the related debates right away in order to meet the August session timeline.”

Hwang denied concerns that the GNP is undergoing internal conflicts.

“The new party chairman and I have seen partial disagreement on the issue, but we both agree that university tuition fees must be slashed by all means,” he said.

Last week, in a ruling party-government meeting, officials generally agreed to commensurate the tuition support with the beneficiary student’s economic level.

The conclusion was largely based on the claims of Hong, Reps. Yoo Seong-min and Na Kyung-won that the state budget should not be spent on those who are affluent enough to afford the fees.

This seemingly was in conflict with the policy suggested by Hwang last month ― to cut the tuition fee level in all schools by 10 percent and to extend the range of scholarship for low-income bracket students.

The party’s spokesperson explained, however, that the two party leaders were not in disagreement on the issue.

“The principle is to cut the general tuition fee level and to offer addition benefits to those who economically need them,” he said.

Hwang also stressed during the meeting that the Korea-U.S. Free Tree Agreement be dealt with as a top priority, together with the tuition issue, in the August session.

“Our goal is to refer the related bill to the foreign affairs committee and have it passed within the August session,” he said.

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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