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Misuse of Tuition Leads to Trouble

 

   
 
  ▲ Picket demonstrations began with words such as "Apologize for the misuse of tuition" and "Clarify the use of tuition."  
 

On July 5th, a special audit by the Ministry of Education revealed that 44 schools had been making pension payment for their employees with student tuition fares. The schools misappropriated some 208 billion won and this has outraged the students and the public alike.

The Private School’s Pension provides cover for teachers, administrative workers and all other personnel employed by for-profit schools. The employees contribute 7% of their salary while the school and the government add the other 7%. The 44 schools caught by the Ministry of Education had been inappropriately using part of student tuition to pay their 7% part of the pension payments.

Yonsei University was at the top of the list with approximately 53 billion won being paid by proxy. Dongguk University, on the other hand, was comparatively low in the amount-2.8 billion won. Nevertheless, the deceptive act of the school raises the issue of transparent use of tuition once again. The exasperated student body, student councils of various colleges and the Golden Time itself, held a press conference on July 21st and another one on August 26th, later on, to request that the school be held responsible for the pension payment and to demand a sincere apology and a reassurance that such an act would not occur again.

The university responded through the media on August 1st that they were planning on redeeming the tuition from September onwards and that the money collected from the employees’ pockets would be reserved for scholarship funds. Yet, the employee labor union had refused to pay back the money as they said the fault rested with the school’s corporate body, not with the employees.

The school’s corporate body had previously negotiated with the employees to pay the pension for them instead of raising their wages. The employees agreed to this and this is why the student tuition was used for the benefit of the employees. The core fault, therefore, was with the school’s corporate body. An administrative worker, who is not satisfied with the school’s response, replied The Post’s question on how he thinks of the issue anonymously. I hope that the corporate body does not blame the employees. The employees were almost forced to agree to the negotiation as we are in no position to deny the proposal.” A few days after the interview, the employee labor union then agreed to claw back the money from their pockets and paychecks. 

The students were outraged once again at the fact that the school indicated its stance through the media first, instead of discussing the outcome with the students, the direct victims of the issue. A senior student from the Department of Law mentioned how dumbfounded he was at the news and firmly stated that the school will need to make a proper apology to the students and make sure that this kind of mishap does not happen again.“Many parents and students struggle to pay tuition and it burns me with wrath that they used our fees for their employees’ personal benefits”. Another student from the Department of Advertising and Public Relations similarly expressed her disappointment with the school.

The student council of Dongguk, the Golden Time, held several meetings with the councils of various colleges, in order to take action against the school’s decision. Through immediate meetings held during July and August, they reached a conclusion that the school and the corporate body will need to make a more ethically responsible stance and apology toward the students. Choi Eun-mi, the president of the College of Social Science noted that for the prevention of future misfortune, the tuition deliberation committee will need to be clearer on how they arrange and spend tuition. “The school must fully reimburse the money to the students and actually use it for the benefits of the students. The distrust towards the school will deepen if the school continues to ignore the students,” she added.

On July 31st, a picket demonstration began with words such as “Apologize for the misuse of tuition” and “Clarify the use of tuition”. The demonstration is on-going in front of the Central Library and Chungmuro station. The students of the College of Social Science visited Jogyesa, where the executive chief of the Korean Buddhist Jogye Order is, in order to perform a one-man demonstration. Their picket words read, “Corporate body must be the ones to pay back”, which were more specific than the ones performed on campus. Such demonstrations caught the attention by passers-by and media outlets. Besides the picket demonstrations, the student councils are promoting their actions through SNS, such as Facebook so that even more students can be aware of the issue and participate in the protests.   

Despite the efforts paid by the students under the blazing sun of August, the school remains silent up until today.The demonstration will go on until the school provides a more rational solution.

Lee So-young  soybeans@dongguk.edu

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