State Colleges Lose Tuition Edge
Tuition fees at private universities were normally more than double those of state-funded universities. However, the gap continues to narrow.
According to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Wednesday, average annual tuition at private universities was 7.42 million won ($6,487) last year, only 1.7 times higher than the 4.19 million won of state-supported universities.
The government has allowed private academic institutes for higher education to raise tuition autonomously since 1989, while state-supported universities gained tuition autonomy 14 years later in 2003. They raised tuition 7.4 percent in that year.
Although tuition rate hikes at state universities was higher than that of private schools, the latter still charged students and parents more in terms of the amount of money.
Private universities have raised tuition by an average of 1.65 million won, nearly 29 percent, over the past five years, while state-funded universities have raised fees by 1.29 million won, about 45 percent.
The average cost to study at private schools has increased from 5.77 million in 2004 to 6.06 million in 2005; 6.47 million won in 2006; 6.89 million won in 2007; 7.38 million won in 2008.
State universities charged 2.9 million won in 2004; 3.11 million won in 2005; 3.42 million won in 2006; 3.77 million won in 2007; and 4.16 million won in 2008.
The tuition hike has also outgrown inflation by a maximum three-fold ― inflation in 2006 and 2007 was 2.2 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively, but tuition hike rates in those years were an average 6.7 percent and 6.5 percent at private universities and 9.9 percent and 10.3 percent at state schools.
In terms of majors, medical schools have seen the fastest tuition increase ― the average cost was 10.04 million won at private schools, up from 7.8 million won five years ago, and 6.76 million won at state universities, up from 4.62 million won.
Facing the global economic slump and growing complaints from parents and students, many universities froze tuition last year, but private and public medical colleges raised it by 7.3 percent and 17.9 percent, respectively.
Arts and sciences departments saw average tuition rise 1.81 million won at private institutes and 1.31 million won at public schools.
As a countermeasure, the ministry has introduced a ``study-now-pay-later'' program for students who are struggling to pay their fees, which provides long-term education loans that allows them to pay the money back after graduating and landing a job.