As students vowed to stage a candlelight protest on Friday calling for tuition cuts, the main opposition Democratic Party on Thursday announced its three-stage plan toward that goal.
“We will first restore the scholarship system for the low-income bracket, which the ruling party ruled out last year through budget reduction,” said Rep. Park Young-sun, the party’s policy chairperson.
“The next steps will be to cut down tuition in national and public universities by half by setting aside an additional budget of 500 billion won ($461) and then to induce private schools to follow suit.”
Private universities, in order to apply for state support, are to disclose their financial status and offer tax benefits to donors, she also said.
“The DP, however, is against the donation-based entrance system as it violates the principle of equity,” Park said.
Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik spoke on Wednesday during the parliamentary interpellation on education in favor of the system, on the premise that the donated amount is used for needy students.
“The tuition cut is an urgent task for our nation and should be regarded as a matter of financial priority,” said DP floor leader Kim Jin-pyo.
The Korean Council for University Education and major schools, however, expressed its opposition to the’ plan at a breakfast meeting with the party’s special committee on the issue on Thursday.
The university presidents made it clear that an immediate tuition cut was impossible without government support and also claimed that the three-stage plan would widen the gap between schools, according to the party’s spokesperson.
“The tuition issue is a complex one involving education, economic and welfare factors,” said DP leader Sohn Hak-kyu.
“Schools should also make their own efforts in order to reach a social consensus.”
According to a public opinion survey conducted by Rep. Won Hye-young and the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, 89.7 percent of adult respondents were in favor of a 50 percent tuition cut.
By Bae Hyun-jung (email@example.com