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'Accommodating 2,000 new med students impossible': deans of med schools

Feb. 19, 2024 - 21:29 By Choi Jeong-yoon
Patients head out of a hospital in Seoul amid medical residents planned to walk out of hospitals to protest against the government's plan to increase the enrollment quota of medical students. (Yonhap)

Some 40 medical universities have called for governments to retract their original decision to add 2,000 seats to the country's medical school enrollment quota next year from the current 3,058, claiming that "the plan is impossible to accommodate considering the conditions of current education in a short period."

The Korean Association of Medical Colleges (KAMC), on behalf of the deans of 40 medical schools and medical specialty schools nationwide, released such a statement on Monday. "We are appalled by the unilateral announcement by the government to increase the enrollment capacity of medical schools and the disruption caused to the educational scene by students who decided to take a collective leave of absence in protest," the association said.

"Not only is there a huge discrepancy with the 350 students that the association initially proposed to increase the enrollment capacity for the 2025 academic year, but it is also an impossible number to accommodate in a short period considering the educational conditions of 40 medical schools and graduate schools nationwide."

In particular, the association cited poor education as a reason for opposing the medical school expansion and demanded the establishment of a legalized governance system to coordinate the supply and demand of medical personnel under a long-term strategy for establishing a healthcare system.

"(The association) fully understands the purity and sincerity of the students' concern for the national healthcare backlog and believes that their demands to the government are justified," added the association, saying it would take all possible measures to ensure that the students are not unfairly disadvantaged under any circumstances.

The statement comes after the Education Ministry held an emergency meeting with presidents from 40 medical universities in the country to urge schools to thoroughly guide students and manage academic affairs by complying with relevant laws and regulations in response to the collective behavior of medical students.

"As this is a critical time for our students to commit to learning as pre-medical students, I urge the presidents in this room to administer academic affairs in accordance with law and principle, while actively communicating with students and professors," said Education Minister Lee Ju-ho, emphasizing that no student nor the citizens should be harmed from any collective actions.

Meanwhile, 160 medical students from Wonkwang University in North Jeolla Province retracted their applications for collective leave of absence that they had submitted last week.