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GNP restricts tuition cut beneficiary range

May 29, 2011 - 19:27 By Bae Hyun-jung
The ruling Grand National Party, in response to the debate over university tuition cuts, has decided to offer the benefits to those who score an average grade of B or higher, officials said Sunday.

It also pledged to reduce the university entrance quota from 2015 by filtering out underperforming schools.

“Our plan is to offer financial support to tuition-burdened students, depending on their economic conditions,” said Rep. Kim Song-sik, the party’s policy committee vice chairman.

“In a bid to prevent students from becoming lax over their academic achievements, we intend to limit tuition cut beneficiaries to those who had an average grade of B or higher in the previous semester.”

He also said that private schools which fall short of the minimum educational standards will be excluded from such benefits.

Despite the new restrictions, the tuition cut plan remains controversial.
Police restrain students who attempted a surprise march to Cheong Wa Dae during their demonstration in Gwanghwamun Square on Sunday, demanding a tuition cut and measures against unemployment. (Yonhap News)

Kim and newly-elected floor leader Hwang Woo-yea announced last week their plan to drastically cut college tuition fees for low-income families. Hwang also met with Education Minister Lee Ju-ho to discuss details.

Their plan is to expand government scholarship programs to students from households in the bottom 50 percent income bracket and also to cover the margin amount with government subsidies.

Concerns and doubts have remained, though, especially over how to raise the necessary financial resources.

“We shall set aside the necessary financial resources by reducing construction budgets and calling off some recent tax cuts,” Kim said earlier on.

“As the economy has now taken an upturn, we expect little problem in securing the necessary funds.”

An extra 2 trillion won ($1.8 billion) is needed every year to implement the plan, according to the GNP, and 3.1 trillion, according to the main opposition Democratic Party.

However, the GNP tuition cut plan hit a snag when Cheong Wa Dae refused to call off other tax cuts, and faced a backlash both within the party and from the opposition. The Education Ministry has so far refrained from giving its official stance over the policy.

By Bae Hyun-jung (