On August 4, Chungnam National University (CNU) decided to partially refund tuition and other fees by way of a special scholarship in consideration of the present situation. What was the reason for this decision?
The first reason for the partial refund is related to COVID-19, the virus that originated in Wuhan, China. At the beginning of February, COVID-19 started to spread on a national scale. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that educational institutions offer non-face-to-face classes. Since then, universities have followed the recommendation. But as the spread of the virus worsened, universities had to extend the period of non-face-to-face classes. Because of this extension, problems with courses were pointed out by students and professors. These were related to a reduction in the quality of education, server errors, and how to conduct exams. To solve these problems, discussions took place between faculty and students.
On June 15, Konkuk University became the first university to refund tuition. Then a student at Hanyang University made an issue of the lackadaisical attitude of their university regarding refunds and the statements of professors, uploading photos of letters written in blood on the school community website in protest. After that, other university students in the capital area participated in writing in blood.
Also, CNU and its students have been in continuous discussion regarding refunds, but CNU expressed its position that it is hard to refund tuition due to "the lack of budget and systemic obstacles facing national universities." Nevertheless, on July 2 at a CNU accounting and finance meeting, a debate between the university and students on refunds was started. Following that, on July 6, Jeonbuk National University announced its decision to refund tuition. This news received much attention among students because it had seemed almost impossible to receive a tuition refund from a national university. After July 11, CNU and WE:SEE—the 51st student council of CNU— made various efforts to reach an agreement: an assembly was held in CNU Hall, a special committee was established, and there were picketing, debates, and meetings.
Thanks to these efforts, on August 4, CNU decided to partially refund tuition and other fees in the form of a special scholarship for 10 percent of actual payment. Because national universities are different from private universities, there are some obstacles to overcome to achieve this goal, mainly financial. But CNU announced that it would be able to cover the cost of refunds by reducing budgets for the university headquarters, departments, international exchange scholarships, etc.
Additionally, on August 31, when asked about refunds for the second semester, CNU said, 'There was no discussion going on.' However, it seems inevitable that more discussions will take place if students have to take non-face-to-face classes like in the first semester.
By Minho Chu email@example.com
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