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Local gov'ts to be granted authority to financially support colleges

Jan. 8, 2023 - 21:07 By Yonhap

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo (L) speaks during a meeting with senior members of the presidential office and the ruling People Power Party at the National Assembly on Sunday. (Yonhap)

The government and the ruling People Power Party agreed Sunday to transfer the education ministry's authority related to financial support for local universities to provincial governments by 2025 as part of education reform measures under the Yoon Suk Yeol administration.

Top government and senior PPP officials also agreed to ease regulations on the operation of universities nationwide to allow them to restructure departments, adjust the number of students and dispose of their assets, PPP spokesperson Yang Geum-hee said in a press briefing on the results of the first regular high-level meeting of 2023 between the two sides. It was attended by top government and PPP officials, including Prime Minister Han Duk-soo and presidential chief of staff Kim Dae-ki.

A growing number of universities, especially located outside of the Seoul metropolitan area, have been grappling with decreasing enrollment amid a low birth rate and financial troubles.

Under the agreed-upon scheme, local governments will be empowered to handle policies to provide universities in their region with financial support.

Starting the consultative session held at the National Assembly, meanwhile, the prime minister stressed the importance of a strong reform drive and steps to improve the livelihoods of the people, with the Yoon administration having entered its second year in office.

"The global economy is forecast to face challenges this year due to sluggish economic growth in the United States, the European Union and China," he pointed out.

Yoon's chief of staff asked for bipartisan support to pave the way for structural reforms in three key sectors -- labor, education and pension -- and help prop up the local economy.

"Out of the 100 bills proposed by the (Yoon) government since it was launched, 95 failed to pass," Kim said in his opening remarks. The main opposition Democratic Party controls the National Assembly with 169 out of 299 seats.

Chung Jin-suk, interim leader of the PPP, emphasized that 2023 is an appropriate time to push for key reform measures, noting there is no national election in the year.

"We need to focus on the economy and national security, and accelerate labor, pension and educational reforms for future generations," he added. (Yonhap)