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Seoul seeks to halve city university tuition with budget support

Newly elected Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon’s ambitious dream to halve college tuition is about to take off as the Seoul Metropolitan Government is considering subsidizing the University of Seoul from next year in tuition terms.

According to the municipal government, it has recently received a request from the public university to provide a total of 18.2 billion won ($16.2 million) so that students can pay just half the tuition. The administration is reportedly positive about its chances.

The subsidization will enable the school to reduce the tuition from 2.38 million won per semester to 1.19 million won. A total of 12,670 students are enrolled in the school and about 4,000 take a gap semester or a year. The budget request assumed that 8,000 students will enroll for the next semester.

If realized, the UOS is likely to become the most affordable university in Seoul. According to Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the average enrollment fee and tuition fee for colleges and universities is 8.2 million won a year.

After the city administration’s positive response to the subsidy request, Kim Jong-min, president of the UOS student council, took to his Twitter account to celebrate.

“Finally we will be able to pay no more than 2 million won. I am about to cry,” he wrote.

The subsidization came a year earlier than Park’s original pledge to kick off the state-support program from 2013.

The half-tuition plan was one of his key pledges. Park claimed that students should not be burdened too much even before they start making money after graduation.

This may have induced support from young voters, who were anxious about the snowballing burden they have to carry. Observers said that with Park taking the initiative, calls for tuition reduction will gain a boost in other schools, too.

Actually, half-tuition was one of President Lee Myung-bak’s forefront pledges during his presidential election back in 2007. He has never pulled it off the table since.

Rep. Hong Joon-pyo, chairman of the ruling Grand National Party, on Wednesday appeared at a TV show and defended the president.

“Half tuition was a wrong idea. But we will try to figure out how to lessen your burden,” he said, draw jeers from the audience.

Meanwhile, less than a week into his new position, Park is moving to remove the traces of his predecessor, Oh Se-hoon, who has pushed for beautifying the outlook of the city.

The city government on Wednesday held a meeting of an advisory body to consult the feasibility and direction of Park’s pledges.

There, the panels suggested a budget reduction for Hangang Renaissance project (redevelopment of Ran River bay area), culture/tourism project, Dongdaemun design plaza dedicated to fashion and industrial design, as well as Hi Seoul festivals. Instead, they advised more allocation of money for leased housing, free school meals and expansion of public daycare centers.

The panelists have reportedly asked the mayor and city officials to prioritize the projects again and devise pilot programs before launching.

“They are recommendations. They are not orders,” said an administration official. “We will reflect the advice and draft our revisions by weekend.”

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)

 

<한글기사>

서울시립대 반값등록금 내년 시행 검토

시립대 182억원 산출…서울시-자문단 "긍정 검토"

박원순 시장이 후보시절 공약으로 내걸어  논란 이 뜨거웠던 '서울시립대 반값 등록금' 시행이 내년부터 이뤄질 수 있을 것으로  보 인다.

 3일 서울시 고위관계자에 따르면 서울시립대는 반값등록금 시행을 위해 182억원 이 든다는 내용을 포함한 추진 방안을 제출했고 지난 2일 박원순 시장의 핵심  공약 사업을 내년도 예산안에 반영하기 위해 열린 회의에서 관련 사안이 긍정적으로 검토 됐다.

 박 시장은 후보 시절 2013년 1학기부터 반값등록금을 지원하겠다고 공약했지만 당선된 뒤 시 예산과에 시립대 반값등록금을 빨리 조치하라고 지시하면서 내년도 예 산안에 관련 예산을 반영하는 방안이 검토되고 있는 것으로 알려졌다.

 서울시립대 관계자는 "서울시 실무부서의 요청을 받아서 반값등록금 시행에  필 요한 예산 규모를 182억으로 산출해 전달했다"고 밝혔다.

 자문 회의에 참가했던 서울시 관계자는 "박 시장의 핵심 공약이었던 만큼  긍정 적으로 검토했다"면서도 "예산은 한정되어 있기 때문에 공약의 우선 순위를  결정하 는 회의를 몇차례 더 거친 뒤에 시의회에 낼 예산을 확정할 계획"이라고 말했다.

 시립대 연간 평균등록금은 477만원으로 서울 시내 10개 주요 사립대의 연간  평 균 등록금이 827만원인 것에 비하면 절반 수준이다. 또한 서울시립대에 지방 출신 학생이 최근 3년간 평균 60% 가량으로 서울시민이 내는 세금으로 지방 학생들을  도 와준다는 지적이 나와 논란이 예상된다. (연합뉴스)

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