Students walk out of a building Friday after completing the written exam for earliy admissions at Soongsil University. (Yonhap)
Fear is growing among college hopefuls after Thursday’s national college entrance exam, as the coronavirus situation could hinder their chances of gaining admission to the colleges of their choice.
Starting this weekend, a number of universities are kicking off written exams and interviews for early admissions. Universities are looking to recruit 77 percent of their new students for next year by Dec. 27.
Konkuk University will have a written exam Saturday, followed by Sogang University, Sungkyunkwan University, Hanyang University and Kyunghee University on Sunday or Monday. Written tests for Yonsei University will run from Monday to Tuesday, and Ewha Womans University and Hankuk University of Foreign Studies will hold theirs Dec. 12 and 13.
Colleges are to choose the remaining 23 percent of students through regular admissions by Feb. 7. Official scores for the College Scholastic Aptitude Test, better known as the Suneung here, will be announced Dec. 23.
The Education Ministry has recommended that universities ensure that all applicants, even those with COVID-19, have a chance to write the tests, but COVID-19 patients hoping to enter college next year are limited in which tests they can take.
As tens of thousands of students are expected to travel to Seoul and nearby regions to seek admission to some of the country’s top institutions, many colleges have decided to bar those confirmed with COVID-19 from taking their exams.
Some are even prohibiting those under self-quarantine from entering their admissions test sites while South Korea fights the COVID-19 pandemic, with Level 2 social distancing rules in place in Seoul and nearby regions.
Colleges have warned that confirmed carriers could be reported to the police and criminally prosecuted if they hide their coronavirus status and take the tests.
Out of 426,344 college hopefuls who took Thursday’s Suneung, 45 were COVID-19 patients and 456 were under self-quarantine. Some 160 test-takers who exhibited COVID-19 symptoms at testing sites were assigned to special exam rooms apart from their peers.
Applicants were asked Thursday to refrain from excessive celebrating after the Suneung and to stay away from high-risk places.
“We want to recognize (test-takers) for their academic efforts,” said Health Ministry spokesperson Son Young-rae in a press briefing. “But we advise them to refrain from holding gatherings or engaging in long conversations with friends in enclosed restaurants and cafes after the Suneung is over.”
Meanwhile, officials are on alert over another possible uptick in the number of daily new cases following the Suneung, as they fear test-takers could become careless about compliance with virus control measures.
On Friday, Korea reported 629 new COVID-19 cases, with 600 of them being locally acquired. Virus experts are advising the government to raise the social distancing level to curb its spread.
By Ko Jun-tae (email@example.com