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Parents protest ban on student exchange programs

More than 10 parents occupied the president’s office at Chung-Ang University for a second consecutive day on Tuesday in protest of the school’s plan to close a recently outlawed program through which their children were admitted. 

More than 240 students were admitted through the so-called “1+3” student exchange program, in which they study at the university for one year and at another university abroad for three years.

Late last year, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology announced that the program violated the education law, and ordered universities, including Chung-Ang University and Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, to stop running the exchange programs.

It also said the students were not even acknowledged as exchange students.

The program has been run since 2009. Since students can gain admission through a relatively easy process, only with their high school grades and some interviews, the program has been popular among students who want to have the study-abroad experience and hold a bachelor’s degree from a foreign school.

“The university should restart the program. It takes a back seat saying that it cannot help but follow the orders of the ministry. Many students have already paid the tuition fee,” said a protesting parent at the university.

They have staged a sit-in at the office since Monday, asking for a meeting with the president.

The students have nowhere to go as admission processes are finished at almost all universities, they said.

The ministry also came under fire for making the announcement last November, just a day after students who applied for the programs at the two schools received applications.

Foreign universities mainly in the U.S. run the program with domestic universities through private agencies.

Chung-Ang University annually admitted 240 students through the 1+3 program and HUFS, 300.

Complaints filed individually by some parents and students at CU to cancel the MEST’s order were turned down last week.

The final ruling on a collective complaint by the others is expected to be out as late as next week.

Meanwhile, the collective complaint made by students and their parents at HUFS was accepted on Monday by the Seoul Administrative Court, and the order was temporarily suspended until the last ruling.

By Kim Young-won (