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Five public colleges face restructuring

By Lee Woo-young

The Education Ministry on Friday selected five public universities that will undergo a restructuring process in a bid to reform public universities and raise their competitiveness in the long term.
The schools -- Kangwon and Gangneung-Wonju National University in Gangwon Province, Chungbuk National University in Chungcheong Province, Kunsan National University in North Jeolla Province and Busan National University of Education -- were blacklisted after a poor showing in an inquiry into their performance. The review looked at the universities’ employment rate, student enrollment, student service and scholarships and tuition fees.
The five universities will be pressured to implement reform measures such as adopting open election for school president instead of a two-decade-old system of electing their presidents directly from school faculty professors.

The direct election system has been blamed for excessive and costly populist pledges and creating division among faculty professors, eventually resulting in increased tuition fees, according to Hong Seung-yong, head of the college restructuring committee.

The Education Ministry will also open the position for administrative director of public schools, which has been taken by education ministry officials so far, to end finger pointing at the ministry for ineffective school administrative work and a reluctant attitude toward reform, officials said.
If the schools don’t fulfill reform measures, they are likely to face a reduction in the number of freshmen, budget cuts, or be restricted in hiring more professors, according to the Ministry’s plan.
Busan National University of Education is the only teacher’s college included in the list that will face reform.
The eight public teacher’s colleges and Korea National University of Education said Thursday they will end the old direct election system and set up a committee to run an open election the day before the ministry announces the five underperforming public schools. Busan teacher’s college didn’t participate in the joint effort as it disagrees with the open election system, according to officials.
The government has selected underperforming private and public universities for college restructuring in line with reducing college tuition fees.
Earlier last month, the Education Ministry selected 43 universities with poor management that will have their government subsidies cut or a restriction placed on receiving student loans.
The restructuring committee decided to inspect 12 schools among the 43 schools for two months, with badly managed universities facing shutdown or mergers with other schools.