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Ministry to tighten university entrance for overseas Koreans

Qualifying for the college admission program for Korean citizens overseas will become more difficult, as authorities revealed plans on Monday to mandate at least three years of middle and high school education outside the country to apply.

According to the blueprint by the Education Ministry, a student wishing to apply for the program has to spend at least three years in a foreign country, including one year in high school.

The ministry also will toughen the screening process to make sure that no underqualified students can enter, such as those with fabricated documents. If implemented, the new policy will have colleges and the Korean Council for University Education cross-reference applications and share information to weed out cheaters.

Korean law allows colleges to allocate up to 2 percent of their openings to students who received much of their education in other countries. The purpose of the program is to provide opportunities for students who had to study under a different education system than that of Korea.

The applicants are exempt from the College Scholastic Ability Test, the Suneung. Because of this, some students have forged the required documents or lied about the amount of time they spent overseas to apply, according to the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission.

The ACRC recommended that the ministry enhance the screening process and clarify the guidelines for applying.

Local higher education institutes customarily require students to have resided at least two to three years in foreign countries. The new policy will set this at three years.

During the three years, the legal guardian of the student must also reside in the country for at least two-thirds of the period, which would roughly amount to 730 days.

The Education Ministry and the KCUE will gather feedback from colleges and local education offices this week. If approved, the policy will start taking effect for students who enter college in 2021.

By Yoon Min-sik (