University Student Quotas to Shrink Further

  • By Kim Yeon-ju

    September 16, 2022 13:16

    Admission quotas for universities and vocational colleges in the provinces and capital region will be cut by 16,197 over the next three years as the younger population dwindles. 
    The government now pays universities and colleges if they volunteer to cut their admission quotas because many less scrupulous commercial institutions want as many students as they can get. On Thursday, the Education Ministry pledged W140 billion to universities and colleges that reduce their student quota further (US$1=W1,394).
    Last year, the government asked 233 universities and colleges that had passed the fundamental performance assessment if they would cut their student quota. But only 55 universities and 41 technical colleges agreed to reduce their quota by a total of 7,991 and 8,206. 
    The government also accepted plans to transfer their undergraduate quota to graduate or lifelong learning programs.
    Universities and colleges in the south -- Busan, Ulsan and South Gyeongsang Province -- made the biggest cuts with 4,407 students. Next came the Chungcheong provinces (4,325), Jeolla provinces and Jeju (2,825), Daegu, North Gyeongsang and Gangwon provinces (2,687), and the capital region (1,953). 
    A whopping 88 percent of the cuts were from schools outside the capital region as they already had difficulties recruiting new students. 
    The student recruitment rate has been falling every year since 2010 and dropped to 84.5 percent last year. It rose slightly to 84.8 percent this year as universities cut their admission quota from 707,822 to 698,865 over the last year even though the number of new students dwindled from 597,845 to 592,291.
    The subsidies amount to between W6.5 million and W32.7 million per student depending on the size of the quota cut and the related efforts each school makes. For example, Gwangju University will get the biggest subsidy of W7.04 billion, followed by Ulsan University's W6.57 billion. 
    Universities in the capital region that agreed to make cuts include Dankook University (W1.14 billion), Hansung University (W749 million), Korea University (W743 million), the University of Seoul (W317 million), and Kookmin University (W26 million). Many of them plan to transfer their undergraduate quota to graduate programs.
    But the ministry wants further cuts and will calculate a constant student rate -- an indicator of attendance -- for each university and ask those ranked in the bottom 30-50 percent in each region to cut their admission quota on pain of losing other subsidies if they refuse to comply. 
    The assumption is that universities and colleges with a low attendance rate are likely to be commercial degree mills and in some cases fig leaves for illegal immigration.
    Though they have a high student recruitment rate, some universities near the capital region also have a startlingly low attendance rate because many students dropped out and found places at better universities in Seoul through transfer or retaking the college entrance exam. That means more drastic quota cuts are needed in the capital region as well. 
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