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Seoul college students vow to go on strike for tuition cut

All Headlines 11:54 June 07, 2011

SEOUL, June 7 (Yonhap) -- The student councils of four universities in Seoul vowed Tuesday to go on a joint one-day strike later this week to call for halved tuitions, which President Lee Myung-bak had promised during his election campaign.

The move comes as the ruling Grand National Party (GNP) has recently pushed for drastically reducing tuition costs as part of its major welfare measures for young students and the middle class, which some party legislators allege is backing populist policy driven by the opposition parties.

"Although some students shaved their heads and went on a hunger strike to urge the Lee Myung-bak administration to abide by its campaign pledge for half-priced college tuitions, the government is still acting in a deceptive manner," said a joint statement issued by four private colleges in Seoul.

The four schools are Korea University, Sogang University, Sookmyung Women's University and Ewha Womans University. If a joint strike is approved in a vote by the respective colleges, the student body will boycott Friday afternoon classes and attend a candlelight vigil instead in hopes of having their voices heard, the student councils said.

Hundreds of college students, parents and activists have been holding candlelight vigils in downtown Seoul for nearly 10 days, also joined by some opposition lawmakers.

In response to the wave of protest, the main opposition Democratic Party said it will push for measures to drag down college tuitions through expansion of state funding and restructuring plans starting from the next semester.

"We will lay out new alternatives to be able to partially lower the tuition fees starting from the fall semester," DP leader Sohn Hak-kyu said in a party meeting.

South Korea ranks second on a list of countries with the highest average college tuitions after the United States, as shown in a 2009 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report.


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