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South Korean government determined to weed out underperforming institutions

As a result of a nation-wide evaluation aimed at weeding out sub-standard higher education institutions in South Korea, 43 private institutions and 5 public institutions were blacklisted by South Korea’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. The five flagged public institutions are required to draw up drastic reform measures, such as mergers or closure of underperforming departments. They will also face budget cuts unless improvements are made. Similarly, the 43 private institutions blacklisted will cease to receive state funding, which totalled KRW 130 billion (EUR 81.6 million) in 2010. Moreover, government loans and scholarships for students enrolled in such institutions will also be reduced.  

While the institutions concerned have protested against the evaluation criteria and the abrupt suspension of state funding, the Korean government is convinced of the necessity of such tough measures in order to reprioritise the allocation of state funding and restructure its higher education system for maximum effect. The soaring tuition fees in private institutions, which account for 80% of all higher education institutions in South Korea, caused mass student protests in May and June. By withdrawing state support from the 43 private institutions, the taxpayers’ money will be redirected to a state scholarship programme for students from low-income families. 

The nation-wide evaluation does not only cover domestic Korean institutions, but also (according to a University World News report) branch campuses of foreign institutions. The assessment criteria for foreign operations are still being developed by the Korea Education Development Institute. It is believed, however, that underperforming foreign branch campuses will not face the same tough measures forced upon domestic institutions, given the Korean government’s interest in attracting foreign institutions to operate in its free economic zones.     
Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (re: public institutions)

Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (re: private institutions)

The Korea Herald