The Korea Herald


GNP pushes for means-tested tuition fee cuts


Published : Aug. 4, 2011 - 19:35

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Plans up to 21% cut for those outside the top 30% of earners

The government and the ruling party have set out a plan to drastically slash fees for most of the country’s university students.

“The government has come up with a plan to cut tuition fees by up to 21 percent for those outside the top 30 percent of the income bracket,” said Rep. Hwang Woo-yea, Grand National Party floor leader, after a government-ruling party meeting Thursday.

Hwang, however, expressed concerns that this plan may be regarded as discriminatory by students and parents, and inconvenient by schools.

“Schools will have to access students’ family incomes every time they issue their tuition bill,” Hwang said.

“Also, means-tested financial support will be no more than another scholarship system, and not a fundamental reduction in the cost of tuition.”

The party is considering expanding the range of such benefits to all households, regardless of their income, he added.

The GNP’s earlier plan was to cut tuition fees by 15 percent by investing 1.5 trillion won ($1.41 billion) of government funds and 500 billion won of scholarship funds, regardless of students’ income.

The change in direction was largely due to the influence of party chairman Rep. Hong Joon-pyo who claimed that government funds should not be wasted on those who can afford the tuition fees.

Supreme Council members such as Reps. Yoo Seong-min and Na Kyung-won also supported his arguments.

Hwang supported a general cut and partially disagreed with Hong’s group regarding the issue.

“The tuition fee discussion is a major reason why the parliament’s provisional session should be held this month,” Hwang also said.

On the other hand, the opposition camp underlined that losses caused by recent downpours must first be addressed, before taking the tuition issue further.

“We currently have 930 billion won in reserve funds,” said Rep. Kim Jin-pyo, floor leader of the main opposition Democratic Party

“Once the government and the ruling party confirm the revised supplementary budget plan on the flood damage relief, we will cooperate in holding a provisional session and allocating the remaining amount to tuition cut projects.”

The government and the ruling party also agreed earlier, as part of their plan to support the people’s general livelihood, to increase the amount and range of governmental support for low-income citizens, officials said.

By Bae Hyun-jung (