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S. Korea ranks 3rd in college tuition fees among OECD countries

All Headlines 15:56 June 20, 2011

SEOUL, June 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's university tuitions were the third most expensive among the OECD member countries last year, Seoul's education ministry said in a report Monday.

Government scholarships accounted for 4.4 percent of the nation's total public education costs, compared with the OECD average of 11.4 percent, and student loans bore 5.7 percent of the total expenses, far lower than the OECD average of 8.8 percent, the report said.

The share of the public sector in college education costs declined below the OECD average of 69 percent, the report said, leaving most of the tuition burden on students and parents.

The graduation rate of high schoolers and university students recorded 79 percent and 37 percent, respectively, both higher than the OECD average, it said.

Public education costs per gross domestic product (GDP) ranked fourth among 31 member nations, following Iceland, the United States and Denmark, it noted.

The issue of tuition is highly sensitive in a country where students nationwide protest annually against tuition raises, with some shaving their heads or forcibly occupying the offices of university presidents.

The cost of college has become a top social and political issue in South Korea since late May, with students and civic activists having staged weeklong protests calling for lower tuitions.

There is a widespread consensus among rival parties over the need to cut college tuition fees, though they are divided over to what extent to implement the cuts, a move that would require an enormous budget.


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