The Korea Herald


Ministry warns of admissions freeze if it halts expansion plan

By Choi Jeong-yoon

Published : May 8, 2024 - 15:27

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Medical students of Pusan National University protest the school's medical school quota hike plan in a collective action on the campus on May 7, 2024. (Yonhap) Medical students of Pusan National University protest the school's medical school quota hike plan in a collective action on the campus on May 7, 2024. (Yonhap)

The Ministry of Education warned Wednesday of punitive measures, including the suspension of student admissions, as a potential consequence for Pusan National University if it persists in halting its medical school enrollment expansion plan.

Expressing regret over the school's decision on Tuesday to suspend the increase of medical seats, the ministry emphasized that each university must adhere to the allocation of medical school seats as determined by the education minister in accordance with the Higher Education Act.

Additionally, the ministry clarified that failure to comply may lead to corrective measures as outlined in Article 60 of the Higher Education Act.

"Suspension of student admissions is one of the rectification orders the ministry can issue. This will be conducted with administrative measures so the specific details will have to be rediscussed," Vice Minister of Education Oh Seok-hwan said at an emergency briefing on medical schools held Wednesday.

“As the university has submitted a request to increase the number of seats in the medical school on its own, I urge the university to complete the revision of the bylaws by coming to an agreement within the university.”

“We regret the situation at Pusan National University, as other universities have already completed the revision of their academic rules or are in the process of revising them,” Oh added.

Pusan National University was one of 32 schools allocated a total of 2,000 additional admission seats by the government in March as part of a medical reform initiative. With the government's permission to flexibly adjust the number ranging from 50 to 100 percent within the quota, South Korea is getting ready to see some additional 1,500 seats next year.

The university was first assigned to raise its total medical school quota from the current 125 to 200 by next year. As the school decided to use only half of its allocation, it submitted a finalized enrollment quota plan to admit 163 medical students for the academic year of 2025 last month.

In a Tuesday meeting, however, the school's academic board rejected a revision of school regulations reflecting the quota expansion, saying that sufficient social debate should precede any medical school quota hike.

Currently, out of 32 medical schools assigned to increase their admission seats, 12 schools have finalized their revision, while 20 are still moving to change their school regulations.

Pusan National University is the first of the 32 medical schools to decide not to pass the school regulation needed to increase the number of medical school seats.