The education ministry said Monday it has decided to shut down two local universities as part of a sweeping drive to week out nonviable institutions of higher learning and to improve the country's education quality.
Myungshin University, a four-year institution in the southern city of Suncheon, 415 kilometers south of Seoul, and Sunghwa College, a two-year college located in the nearby town of Gangjin, will be ordered closed in mid-December for failing to meet government-set standards in terms of education quality and accounting transparency, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said.
The two schools will also be barred from enrolling new students for the 2002 semester, while their current students totaling about 3,000 will be transferred to nearby universities, it noted.
"The ministry has decisively and sternly made the close-down decision in order to guarantee the minimum quality of university education," Education Minister Lee Ju-ho said in a briefing. "The ministry will regularly take similar measures in the future," Lee said, indicating more uncompetitive universities will be subject to a shutdown order.
The latest closures to come follow on the heels of the 2008 shutdown of a four-year college and an art college in 2002. Both were forced to shut due to irregularities by their foundations.
Myungshin University and Sunghwa College were among 43 undergraduate-level schools the ministry identified in early September as poorly-managed universities, all of which will have their state education subsidies cut next year.
The list was issued as part of the country's drive to crowd out universities that are unable to provide quality education amid rising calls to cut expensive college tuition fees.
The two troubled universities were found, in a ministry-led audit, to have been riddled with a wide range of corruption and irregularities, and failed to correct them despite previous warnings, according to the ministry.
The education reform drive comes after calls mounted for restructuring of problem-ridden higher-learning institutions before injecting state funds to curb soaring tuition costs. The issue has become a top policy priority for political parties ahead of next year's major elections.
Officials have said that an equal provision of funds to all schools would be a waste of taxpayer money and could end up as a lifeline for uncompetitive colleges. President Lee Myung-bak has also called for college restructuring as a condition for providing government money to universities.
In South Korea, 80 percent of higher education institutions are operated by private foundations that rely heavily on tuition fees for revenue.