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Korea: 'Excessive tuition collected last year'

Major universities collected 20 percent more tuition than was due last year, according to a study. The finding was based on a study of 20 Seoul-based private universities by the Korea Higher Education Research Institute. The schools inflated expenditure when drawing up their annual budgets, while reporting less than what was actually collected in revenue, as a means to impose higher tuition fees.

The 20 omitted a combined total of 571.6 billion won in revenue from their financial statements for 2011. However, they overstated a combined total of 172.1 billion won in expenditure. Through the accounting manipulation, the universities collected 743.7 billion won more in tuition than was warranted, the institute noted. The sum accounted for 20 percent of the schools’ total tuition, estimated at 3.72 trillion won.

The colleges could have actually cut tuition by 20 percent if they had adopted appropriate accounting measures.

“The schools used a method of omitting a large amount of money collected and exaggerating costs to collect more tuition from students in a deceptive manner,” said Yeon Duk-won, researcher at the institute.

Ewha Womans University collected an excess of 159.1 billion in tuition, the largest sum among the higher learning institutions.

Korea University also collected 69.2 billion won more tuition than needed, followed by Yonsei University (61.2 billion won), Sungkyunkwan University (53.5 billion won), Hongik University (52.3 billion won) and Konkuk University (50.7 billion won).

The figure was estimated at 46.2 billion won for Hanyang University, 43.3 billion won for ChungAng University, 30.5 billion won for the Catholic University of Korea and 25.8 billion won for Kookmin University.

However, the increased revenue did not lead to more investment in education. At Hongik University, research funds allocated for individual faculty members and money for purchasing equipment required in classes for individual students in 2011 decreased compared to in 2010. The situation was similar at Yonsei, Hanyang and Konkuk universities.

“The problem is that the authorities have done nothing to solve this issue,” said Yeon. “The government needs to step up supervision of such matters,” he said. “The schools themselves also need to be more serious about developing a conscience.”

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