SEOUL, March 3 (Korea Bizwire) — Student outcry continues to grow on campuses across the nation over class-size restrictions, as universities struggle to appease students while also facing government-mandated structure reforms on higher education facilities.
University websites have been inundated with online messages posted by students looking to swap classes with others, with some desperate students even offering financial incentives to sweeten the pot.
One message read: “I’m looking for a vacancy in an English class I’m required to take in order to graduate. Anyone who is willing to give me their seat in return for a financial reward, feel free to contact me.”
Another message was left by a seemingly upset student, who claimed they would not be able to graduate this year despite what they were told by university officials earlier.
This worrying phenomenon where students who pay tuition fees don’t have much choice in choosing their academic classes is in large part due to a collective effort by both the Korean government and universities to raise the quality of lectures by restricting the size of classes.
However, the measure to impose arbitrary caps on all classses – with some limited to only 20 students – have backfired.
Critics say what was originally thought to be a sound idea by education and university officials seems to have exacerbated the potential problems caused by the lack of academic choice, which students are having to face now.
On the mobile website of one university in North Chungcheong Province, students were seen protesting in the form of an online thread over how unfairly some of them are being treated by their university.
A student named Park spoke out against the university’s policy, saying, “It is absurd that students don’t get to choose what courses to take, and can’t graduate in time as a result, despite the tuition fees poured into the pockets of higher education facilities.”
Another university in Seoul found itself in hot water last year when it pushed for smaller class sizes. The effort to introduce structural reforms recommended by the government was met with a student petition and banners condemning the university’s unilateral decision.
Experts place the blame for this deeply troubling situation on the government’s current university rating, which guarantees higher scores for universities offering smaller classes. Without extra staffing and open dialogue with students, many speculate structural reforms in higher education systems are destined to fail.
Hyunsu Yim (email@example.com)