| The government plans to reduce the maximum number of four-year and two-year college students from the current 560,000 to 400,000 by 2023.
The Ministry of Education announced on Tuesday a plan to restructure the country`s higher education system by classifying all universities and colleges into five grades in preparations for drastic reductions in the number of college students in the future.
Under the plan, all universities and colleges are required to cut the number of their students by 160,000 in three stages by 2023: 40,000 between 2015 and 2017; 50,000 between 2018 and 2020; 70,000 between 2021 and 2023.
As it announced last year, the ministry plans to classify all rate and colleges in five grades through absolute evaluations. Best-rated schools can reduce the number of their students independently, while the others are required to follow government-set guidelines. However, even best-rate schools have no choice but to follow the restricting guidelines, as the ministry plans to link its financial assistance to the sizes of reductions.
Details about how the schools will be rated have yet to be determined. The ministry has just decided that it will evaluate universities and colleges in accordance with common indices on overall school management and specific indices for each school`s specialties, while conducting both quantitative and qualitative evaluations. The ministry said it will enact a law on the planned restricting of universities and colleges in the first half of this year to set up a dedicated committee, before deciding on detailed evaluation standards by August.
Schools that receive "very unsatisfactory" ratings for two consecutive evaluations will be forced to close.
The ratio of student number cuts between four-year universities and two-year colleges has been set at 63 to 37. Under the ratio, four-year universities are required to reduce 25,300 by 2017, and two-year colleges 14,700. The ratio between schools in Seoul and the metropolitan area and provincial regions and between national schools and private ones have not been set yet. The ministry said the ratios will be determined by the university restructuring committee after evaluation results come out.