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Ministry to scrap direct election of public univ. heads

By Lee Woo-young
The Education Ministry will ask public universities to phase out presidential elections and require presidents to specify school development goals.
Under the university reform measures suggested by an experts’ panel formed amid rising calls for tuition fee cuts, national and public universities across the country should abolish in stages the current system of directly electing presidents. The universities are recommended to adopt an open election instead.
In the current closed election system adopted in 1991 by public universities, the presidential election from faculty professors has been often marred by excessive and costly populist pledges and partisanship, which the panel said was a cause of high tuition fees, according to ministry officials. The committee also questioned the president’s right to select deans, saying university presidents tend to abuse this authority.
An open election system as suggested by the panel will enable candidates from outside the faculty to be nominated as president, officials said.
In a bid to ensure outside figures have a chance of being elected, the panel suggested universities to create a candidate recommendation committee including outside individuals, who should account for up to one third of the members.
On the panel advice to evaluate state-funded university presidents, the ministry will require presidents to specify their goals for their four-year terms, and monitor progress every year.
The package of proposals by the reform panel will be finalized next month after consultations with national universities.
Public university professors, however, opposed the reforms, claiming they would harm school democracy.
“The direct election system is a means to protect our school, so we call for the Education Ministry to stop meddling with national universities,” said the association of national university professors in its statement.
The Ministry plans to evaluate how far universities achieved these measures and use the result in selecting the 15 percent of schools to be closed.
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