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Tuesday,March 26,2019
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The wind of change: University dormitories

 

University dormitories are changing. They provided low-priced rooms to university students in times past. But the construction of upscale dormitories is becoming a new trend. These high-class dormitories have many amenities that we have never even expected to use. Kangnam, Konguk, Dankook, Sogang, Sookmyung, Joong-ang, and Seoul National University announced that they constructed upscale dormitories. The trend has relevance to private investment. By attracting private capital, universities can construct high-quality dormitories. 


Then, what are differences between these new dormitories and ordinary dormitories? With heating around the clock, a sky lounge, a bathroom with a bidet, a cinema room, a library, and a language laboratory, these state-of-the-art dormitories break the stereotype that a dormitory is just a bedroom with regulations and rules. “I lived in a high school dormitory. I wondered how life in a university dormitory would be. I entered university with great expectations. There are useful and convenient facilities. So, it is very comfortable and convenient to live in the dormitory!” said Lim Dong-chul, majoring in life science at Konkuk University.


The biggest reason that the universities can build modern dormitories is that they have adopted BTO (Build-Transfer-Operate) programs for constructing dormitories. BTO programs are a part of the ‘EDU21’ policy. Through these programs, a university can attract private capital and then a business can obtain the right to manage a dormitory for 10 or 20 years. Therefore, a university can provide improved living facilities for its students at lower costs, and the company that invests the capital can make a profit by renting the rooms. Dongguk University also constructed a dormitory using the BTO program. The university will receive ownership of the dormitory in 2031. “The fundamental reason why dorm costs are rising is the attraction of private capital. So, universities need to construct their own dormitories by using their own university funds. I think this is reasonable,” said Park Gu-yong, a section chief at the Korean Council for University Education


Konkuk University constructed the first upscale dormitory, called ‘KU:L’ House, using the BTO program. The dormitory can accommodate up to 3070 students. There are five buildings with twelve stories above ground and one underground level. The dormitory complex is equipped with 182 single and 1,435 double rooms. The underground level has a convenience store, a book store, a bakery, an eatery, a beauty shop, and a laundry room. Monthly rent for a single room is 500,000 won, while the cost of a double room is 400,000 won per person. KU: L House has one floor designated as an “English only” floor. A global cafe and a career center are also situated in the dormitory.


Other universities’ dormitories are also very conspicuous. Dankook University has an upscale dormitory in Jookjseon. The dormitory can accommodate up to 1074 students. It has ten stories above ground and one underground level. There are amenities like an eatery, a convenience store, and a laundry room.


Yeungnam University will open a dormitory for students in March. The cost involved in the construction of this dormitory is 15 billion won, attracted through private capital. It can accommodate up to 2,620 students. The conveniences are a seminar room, an auditorium, a study room, and a sky lounge. Kyungnam University has a cutting-edge security system; students can enter the dormitory after the system scans their fingerprints. The dormitory is an apartment-type dormitory. Each apartment has three rooms, a living room, and a laundry room.
Keimyung University opened an English-only dormitory, Kelly House. This dormitory, which houses 180 students, requires that six native English-speaking professors live in the same building so students can practice using their English on a daily basis. Keimyung University also opened a Chinese-only dormitory, Click House, and established a Japanese-only dormitory, ‘Ji-ku’ House. 


Clearly, upscale dormitories provide various conveniences as well as room and board. But there are concerns about attracting private capital. Some people say that dormitories built and operated through private investment lead to inflated dorm costs. In fact, privately-funded dorm costs increase at twice the rate of general dormitories. But the outcome seems to dismiss these financial concerns. “Considering the modern facilities, I think the cost of living in a dorm is not too expensive,” said Back Su-hyun, who attends Sogang University.


There is little difference between the cost of living alone and the cost of living in an upscale dormitory. On average, the cost of living in one of these modern dormitories is two million won per semester. Meanwhile, the cost of cooking for oneself is three thousand won with a down-payment of two million won, and the average monthly rent at a dormitory is 430,000 won. In conclusion, there is little difference between them. “I would rather live in an upscale dormitory. Basically, the costs of living near the school and living in a dorm are not significantly different,” said Kim Young-nong, a student at Sookmyung University.  

 

Kim Jong-ha  keep14@dongguk.edu

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