Special University Admission Schemes Widely Abused

Special university entrance schemes designed to widen access for disadvantaged minorities are being abused to a serious degree. The Board of Audit and Inspection on Wednesday said it found 865 cases of illegitimate university entrance through special schemes designed for students in rural areas and low-income households and for those who have lived abroad.

The rationale behind these special schemes is to give more chances to students from disadvantaged educational environments. But many students who are not eligible exploit loopholes in the schemes to increase their chance of getting accepted at more prestigious universities.

A total of 479 students in 55 universities were found to have been admitted illegitimately through the special program for students in rural areas. Their parents moved their address to rural areas while actually living in cities, and most of the rural addresses given were unfit for habitation. Some had addresses on airport runways, warehouses, and chilli fields. Others changed their addresses to the dormitories of the schools their children were going to move to, with the help of the schools.

After illegitimately meeting the conditions, parents then briefly sent their children to schools in rural areas. Once they were accepted by the university of their choice through the special scheme, they simply changed their addresses again. This was especially frequent at Korea University with over 80 cases.

Seoul National University had around five cases, and other notable universities -- Sungkyunkwan, Sogang, Ewha Womans, Hanyang, Kyunghee, Konkuk, Dongguk, and Hankuk University of Foreign Studies -- between 10 and 40.

The special admission program for students from abroad is reserved for Koreans with permanent residency in other countries, children of those who worked abroad for extended periods, naturalized foreigners, and North Korean defectors. But the BAI found seven illegitimate cases in five universities.

In order to meet the condition of attending school outside Korea for two or three years including one year in high school, they lied about the time they spent abroad. Some parents forged their records of leaving and entering Korea, and some nominally had their children adopted by Koreans with foreign nationalities or missionaries.

Prof. Park Jhung-soo at Ewha Womans University said, "From the early stage of the special entrance schemes, there were many illegitimate cases where prominent figures or university staff got their children admitted by dodgy means. There is a need for stronger punishment of universities, for example by not allowing them to recruit new students for replacement for a certain period."

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 28, 2012 08:16 KST