| The practice in which retired senior officials from the Education Ministry get news jobs as presidents or senior positions at private universities will likely come to an end, as the government plans to include private universities into the list of organizations where retired government officials are banned from working under the Public Service Ethics Act.
Under the ethics law, grade-4 or higher public officials are prohibited from being hired by private companies of certain size or larger ones, law firms, accounting firms and tax firms for two years after retirement. As private universities are not subject to the restrictions, many officials retiring from the Education Ministry find new jobs as presidents or professors in managerial positions at private institutions of higher education. Such former officials have been criticized for helping the schools win budgets for government-initiated research projects or shield them in times of the ministry`s audit of universities.
According to documents that Rep. Yoo Ki-hong of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy received from the Education Ministry, 10 out of 14 former vice education ministers have found news jobs as presidents of private universities after retiring from public service since 2000.
The government has decided to add private universities to the list of employment-restricted organizations in order to address such issues. However, the restricted jobs at private universities are presidents, vice presidents and professors in management positions. There are heated debates over whether to ban retired public officials from being employed as non-management professors.
"It is right to restrict re-employment as managerial professors because they can participate in university management," a ministry official said. "But when you get a job as an ordinary professor, you focus on education rather than on management. There is also a fairness issue with other ministry officials."
Late last year, the Education Ministry announced that it would revise ministry officials` ethics code to prevent grade-2 or higher officials from being hired as private university presidents for two years after retirement. However, the plan was criticized for being ineffective because it did not have any legal force and could not apply to those who already retired.