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[FACULTY EDITORIAL] Half-price Tuition! Populism or Universal Welfare?
FACULTY EDITORIAL | 승인 2012.07.03 16:18|(237호)

    Nowadays, half-price tuition is looming in from of us as a new issue in our society. The key point is that university tuition is relatively expensive when compared to our income, but it is continuously increasing at a fast pace. Therefore, almost all parents are oppressed by soaring tuition fees that they cannot pay, and many university students are working part-time job to relieve their parents' heavy burdens. It is regrettable that most university students are wasting so much time in order to earn money for their school expenses instead of studying hard in the library.
    Another disputed issue in our society is free school lunch. It is a recent proposal on free school lunches in the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education that sparked an acerbic controversy. As a referendum on the issue is slated for the end of August, the political debate over free school lunches in Seoul is expanding and becoming overheated. The results of the voting will depend on whether Seoul citizens regard the plan as a kind of populism or a part of universal welfare. But the border between both these ideas seems to be unclear and ambiguous. It lies at the mercy of difference of thought or interpretation.
    Half-price tuition can be either a pretentious plan driven by populism or a authentic plan based on universal welfare. However, regardless of its ideological controversy, it should be realized. If half-price tuition is achieved, many students will benefit from it. Maybe almost all students and parents are eagerly anticipating the day when it will be put into operation across the board. But, there are several considerations to think about prior to carrying out it now in our society. First of all, universities need enough budget to implement the plan. So, the government should begin an extensive investigation or a thorough audit into the actual condition of universities to determine whether they have abundant fit for in. It is said that several private universities misuse or misappropriate ate students' tuitions to compensate for the loss of their foundation. In face, many Universities are saving considerable money as a school reserve fund for the purpose of covering the expenses of construction, research, and investment for the future, which are mainly financed by students' tuitions.
    The excessive university's reserve fund is a principal factor that can lead to increasing university tuition fees. But, most poor private universities in financial difficulty are claiming for increasing the level of subsidy for them to practice the plan of half-price tuition. They say that if the government doesn't subsidize them, they can not follow the plan. On this opportunity, the government needs to reorganize and rearrange the whole system of colleges and universities around the country. It is especially necessary to check up closely on the thirteen universities identified as bad schools because of all kinds of irregularities and the poor management practices according to the announcement of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in 2009. The bad universities in management and finances should be forced out of the education circle before injecting finance for the half-price tuition plan proposed by The Grand National Party as a campaign promise. All political parties are now pitching for how to reform the bad schools through restructuring along with the issue of reducing tuitions for students. But because it can be abused by government, restructuring universities requires a prudent approach and a national agreement.
    Although the half-price tuition plan has to be realized, it is necessary to push ahead by degrees. Seeing it in broad perspective, the half-price tuition plan has something to do with the publicization of university education leading to universal welfare. In our society, the voice of claiming for the publicization of university will be louder and louder in the future. Simply put, it means that government can convert many private universities into national ones against its strong will for the disputed privatization of national universities. It is certain that the high university tuition fees should be lowered, and also restructuring of universities has to be pushed ahead by not clamorous populism but in the spirit of true universal welfare.

 

By  Min Kyung-taek  
Professor of Dept. of English Language & Literature

FACULTY EDITORIAL  -

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