The Korea Herald


Seoul seeks to halve city university tuition

By Korea Herald

Published : Nov. 3, 2011 - 19:32

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University of Seoul requests subsidy to cover reduction in fees income

Seoul Metropolitan Government is considering subsidizing tuition at the University of Seoul from next year to cut fees in half.

The municipal government said it had received a request from the public university to provide a total of 18.2 billion won ($16.2 million) so that tuition fees can be halved. The administration is reportedly favorable toward the proposal.

The subsidization would 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, the average cost of enrollment and tuition for colleges and universities is 8.2 million won a year.

After the city administration’s indication that it would approve, 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.

Cuts in 2012 would come a year earlier than Park pledged in his campaign.

The half-tuition plan was one of his key policies. Park argued that students should not face heavy financial burdens before they start making money as graduates.

This is thought to have induced support from young voters, who were anxious about student finances. Observers said that with Park taking the initiative, calls for tuition reductions will gain a boost in other schools, too.

Halving tuition was one of President Lee Myung-bak’s main pledges during his presidential campaign in 2007. He has never officially withdrawn it.

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

“Halving tuition was a wrong idea. But we will try to figure out how to reduce 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 (