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Saturday,January 23,2021
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Dongguk’s scholarship, Beyond State Scholarship!

   
 
   
 
Most of Korean university students know state scholarship. Also, they know that this scholarship is concerned with their school. What is a state scholarship? The scholarship was introduced for many college students who are in needy circumstances and whose parents could not afford to pay their child's university tuition. Therefore, state scholarship helps these poor students in order for them to study hard and follow their dreams without any concern. To give more detail, state scholarships can be divided into two parts, type 1, and type 2. Type 1 is what the state gives to students directly. But type 2 is more complex. This is money that state gives to each university for scholarships, and each university decides who among their students will receive a state scholarship. Since state scholarships started, some students could lighten their burden of high tuition. But, the distribution of state scholarships is not perfect, so this scholarship program is in the hot seat now and many university students are lodging complaints about standards by which state scholarships are given. The new semester is starting, and students are becoming even more interested in the scholarship. More surprisingly, Ohmynews, a Korean media source, has published university students' memoirs “My Anger about State Scholarship” serially. Why is this state scholarship so problematic? How should this problem be solved? And, more importantly, what has Dongguk University's response been toward this controversy over the state scholarships.

 

According to the results of a recent survey at Dongguk University, many students responded that there were 'ambiguous standards for choosing beneficiaries for scholarships,’ and other students had opposite responses. For example, the Korea Student Aid Foundation (KOSAF) sets the budget for scholarships for students, decides the number of beneficiaries and announces who the beneficiaries are on the internet. At this moment, KOSAF decides on beneficiaries by income level. This measure of income level consists of 10 levels, and the lower levels represent the poorer segment of the population. There is one problem about using only this income level to decide who receives scholarships. Many people said that income level is not  the only thing that should be used in order to determine whether someone should be given a state scholarship or not. Rather than using this factor alone, there are a few other things that can be included in the index for deciding on scholarship beneficiaries, such as having debt, owning a car, and earnings from part-time jobs. Recently, there was one piece of news that shocked many students: The earnings of a part-time job can be considered as an important factor in scholarship decisions. A student said, “I am so angry. One of my friends has his own car and he usually enjoys drinking spirits with his friends. I am working at part-time job in a fancy store and study hard. But, why am I angry? Yes. He was given a valuable scholarship, but I couldn't receive one. It is not fair!” In fact, The Kyunghyang Shinmun reported that if someone has income from a part-time job, he or she cannot receive benefit of a state scholarship even though he or she has debt. There is another problem. A student said, “When I knew I was selected for the scholarship the KOSAF homepage, I was so happy. But I was surprised and embarrassed because KOSAF had noticed “You did not selected entirely. Sorry for re-evaluating stage.” Why was I being evaluated again? As a result, in the end I didn't get a state scholarship because of the sign of 'selection failed.'” These are not just two students' problems but our students' common problems. If so, how does the KOSAF justify their decisions? According to a consultant for  the  KOSAF, side income, such as income from a part-time job, can be included in the income index and it can change income level. But, its explanation seems to be ambiguous. If income from a part-time job can increase family income level, what is the standards for defining a part-time job? Also, it does not make sense that this small amount of extra income through a part-time job can be compared to the tuition fee. Its explanation is unrealistic. About the second problem, KOSAF explained that this problem can happen during re-evaluations of scholarship applications. But it is more proper and important to notice precisely although KOSAF announce late.

 

This problematic state scholarship is also concerned with university. If so, how about our Dongguk University? Byun Min-woo, the director of Student Services Team, said, “State scholarship is obviously problematic and is full of holes. I agree with your survey result. But, this is something new about students’ memoirs.” He said, “As you know, we reduced the total awards of type 2 state scholarships. Our first priority is to make sure more students can be beneficiaries of state scholarships. Type 2 is in our school's judgment.” The Post described a story about state scholarship that occurred at another university in Seoul, where a student could not get one million won of tuition relief from a fund to support families in financial difficulty because she received 0.4 million won of state scholarship. This is because the university reduced appropriation for students' scholarship. Byun listened to the question and said, “Oh, my goodness! Our school does not reduce the budget for our Dongguk students' scholarship. We do not reduce any welfare scholarships because of state scholarship. I will explain concretely. We got 21 billions first semester as state scholarship from the government. But, we got 23 billions second semester. Why? Because we are ready to act for every Dongguk students’ welfare, easing their burden of tuition fee, and meeting their expectation. In fact, our school's budget is higher compared to many universities in Seoul.” He added, “We, the Student Services Team, want every student in Dongguk to study hard in affluent surroundings where there is no need to worry about a mountain of tuition fee. We are trying to make this surrounding through Model Scholarships, a reduction of total awards of type 2 scholarships, and expanding the budget for scholarships.”

 

It is important for KOSAF to judge beneficiaries of state scholarship fairly. State scholarship, it is still problematic, and at times very unfair to students. Dongguk University is on higher ground than the state scholarship decision-making body with regard to considering students' welfare.

Kim Kang-su  wellmade01@dongguk.edu

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