Initially, freshmen get excited to be able to enroll in this university, but the joy soon fades away when they receive their first registration bill. The bill, which includes tuition and admission fee, oppresses many students as it requires a significant amount of money. The letdown worsens when we count the fact that most of those students pay the fee without even knowing how it is being used.
In July 2017, President Moon’s administration announced a five-year plan to gradually pare down the admission fee to the point of its complete abolishment. Following their intention to reduce the burden of registration bills given on students, several universities have been making efforts to eliminate their admission fee. However, Hanyang University (HYU) has yet to find an alternative to this issue.
When entering HYU, students must pay an admission fee of 977,000 won. HYU’s admission fee is slightly cheaper than that of Dongguk University and Korea University, but is still ridiculously high when compared to universities like Korea National University of Transportation which only requires 45,000 won of admission fee. The notable thing here is, not only is the fee itself high, but students are uninformed of its actual usage. The university is left alone to arrange the price as it sees fit, and neither clarity nor restriction is ensured.
The Current Status Quo of the Admission Fee Among HYU Students
According to a survey conducted on HYU students, 93 percent of the students have been paying the admission fee with a lack of awareness about its purpose. “I didn’t know about the usage of the admission fee. As a student, it seems that there are many cases where students simply pay just because the school tells them to do so,” commented Lee Donho, a Freshman from the Division of Mechanical Engineering. Moreover, Park Min-ji, a Sophomore from the Department of Policy Studies added by saying “I had not thought about the entrance fee until today. I didn’t give it much thought because other universities also collect the admission fee from students.”
As can be implied from above, judging the legitimacy of collecting the admission fee is difficult for students as they do not have much information about its usage. Both Lee Don-ho and Park Min-ji agreed on the fact that it is hard to determine whether collecting the fee is actually reasonable as it is strictly veiled behind the curtain.
“I think it is necessary to investigate the expenditure of the admission fee and publicly announce the information. Then, based on the result, the admission fee should be adjusted if the output is significantly lower than the investment,” suggested Park Min-ji. Similarly, Lee Don-ho argued that he was willing to pay if the school tells him the exact use of the admission fee. According to the survey that was also conducted, 49 percent of our respondents answered that they would like to know the exact expenditure of HYU’s admission fee. Like such, a transparent reveal of the expenses that is in need.
The Story of the Lawsuit over Returning the Admission Fee
In light of the unfair nature behind such admission fee, students from HYU have gotten together and filed a lawsuit against the school to solve this problem through legal matters. On August 11th, 2017, the second trial of the admission payment lawsuit, filed against the Republic of Korea and Hanyang Academy, the foundation of HYU, was held at the Seoul Central District Court. In this trial, more than a thousand HYU students signed up as the plaintiffs. The main controversial issues throughout the ongoing trial was whether there was a consensus on the use of the admission fee between the students and HYU, and whether there is a school regulation stating that students on break can use the service in the university.
The representative of the plaintiff, Oh Kyu-min, Chief of Educational Policy in HYU, pointed out the major problem of the admission fee. “The admission fee is no different from the tuition fee. There is no reason to collect it as the students have already paid their expensive tuition fee. In other words, freshmen are bearing a double burden. As the school disclosed, apparently the tuition fee is for the enrolled students while the admission fee is used for students on break. If this is true, then this proves that the admission fee is no different from the tuition fee as it is used for the overall management of HYU,” said Oh Kyu-min.
HYU Elucidates on the Controversy of the Admission Fee
HYU has clarified the current state and the intention of the admission fee. “Based on the enforcement ordinance of the Private School Act, the registration fee consists of the admission and tuition fee. Both the admission and tuition fees are the same in respect of using it for managing the university, but they are different as the tuition fee is collected every semester, while the admission fee is collected only when students enter HYU.”
The school added on by commenting that the admission fee is determined by the tuition deliberation committee based on the tuition fee from the previous year, the rate of increase in school operating expenses, and inflation rates such as the minimum wage increase. The government also restricts the school from increasing the admission fee by more than 1.5 times of the average inflation rate in three years. In other words, the amount of the admission fee is decided through careful consideration and the university only collects the amount it really needs.
In regards to the inadequate disclosure of the expenditure, HYU explained about the difficulty of classifying the admission fee usage. “Accounting is divided into tuition accounting and non-tuition accounting. However, this does not mean that the admission fee is used separately since the budget compilation and implementation are done with the overall accounting budget (tuition and admission fee).” HYU also stated, “The admission fee is largely spent on scholarship and the improvement of the educational and research environment in HYU.”
What are the Suggestions to Solve This Dilemma?
In order to solve such problems, reconsidering and securing the transparency of the expenditure should be a priority. Although it is difficult to show the expense report as this fee is not used independently, it is necessary to clarify the procedure and the detailed criteria of determining the amount of the admission fee so that the students can come to trust their administration. After such procedures are taken, students then need to actively debate on whether the factors are justifiable. If the case is negative, adjustments should be made on the admission fee, to the point where they can satisfy the needs of both the students and the school.
What started out as a miscommunication has come to severely damage the connection of trust between students and the school. Thus, reaching a consensus on the definition of an admission fee is needed. Furthermore, while HYU students should have a continued interest and responsibility for the admission fee as it is their money, HYU needs to consider specific measures based on the five-year plan of the administration.