Korean universities lowered their annual tuition fees by 4.5 percent on average, caving in to pressure to ease the financial burden for students and their parents.
The average tuition fees at 186 four-year universities this year amount to about 6.7 million won ($6,000), down 4.48 percent from last year, according to a data compiled by the Education Ministry and released on Wednesday.
It is the first time that universities have cut tuition fees since Korea was founded in 1948.
Students have repeatedly called for slashing tuition costs. The government set aside 1.75 trillion won for tuition support in 2012 as part of its move to help relax tuition burdens.
The average tuition fee for public universities is 4.1 million won and 7.3 million won for private universities for the 2012 school year.
College tuition reduction rates tallied by the Education Ministry and the Korean Council for University Education were disclosed on the college information website on Wednesday.
The number of schools whose annual tuition costs top 8 million won decreased from 50 last year to 24 this year. Still, private universities in Seoul with large student enrollments remain the most expensive. They included Yonsei University, Ewha Woman’s University, Korea University, Hanyang University and Sungkyunkwan University.
The biggest cut was at the University of Seoul, funded and supported by the Seoul Metropolitan Government. The public university cut its tuition fees by half, as part of Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon’s campaign pledge for “half-tuition.” Its annual tuition fee went down from 4.7 million won to 2.3 million won this year. Park was elected Seoul mayor in late October with pledges to expand social welfare.
Holy People University in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province, cut their fees by more than 21 percent. The school is barred from admitting freshmen this year by the education ministry due to poor management.
Most of schools cut their fees by 3 to 5 percent; 96 schools by 5 percent; 35 schools by 3 to 5 percent; and 45 schools by up to 3 percent. There are also four schools which rather raised their tuition fee including Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, Calvin University, Korea National University of Education and Daeshin University.
In Korea, 80 percent of higher education institutions are operated by private foundations that rely heavily on tuition fees for revenue.
By Lee Woo-young (firstname.lastname@example.org