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(EDITORIAL from The Korea Herald on Oct. 10)

All News 07:06 October 10, 2016

False student records

High school records have emerged as an important reference for university admissions.

More universities are selecting new students based solely on their records compiled during three years of high school, which shows not just the student's grades and attendance, but also their extracurricular activities, their special abilities and list of awards, among others.

More than 20 percent of freshmen admissions were determined through high school records this year and the number is expected to increase next year. Starting in 2018, Seoul National University will select eight out of 10 freshmen based on their high school records. Other prestigious schools such as Korea University and Yonsei University are selecting 43 percent of their freshmen solely on their records.

The importance of these records reflects a shift in university admission trends, giving more consideration toward applicants' potential and non-academic activities rather than their performance on the College Scholastic Ability Test, which has been the dominant admission reference since the mid-1990s.

Needless to say, it is becoming increasingly important for students to get the best possible records by pursuing a variety of extracurricular activities and honing special talents, besides studying to get good grades. But the reliability and transparency of student records has come into question with rising cases of manipulation.

A report by Rep. An Min-suk of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea released during the National Assembly's audit of the education ministry last week showed that 419 cases of falsified records were discovered in 371 high schools in the past four years.

In many cases, school staff had tampered with the online National Education Information System (NEIS) to fabricate the records. The education ministry should fix holes in the NEIS system that has made it possible for some teachers and schools to engage in this kind of illegality to raise the numbers of their schools' university admissions.

The education ministry said that it will conduct an inspection of the 2,300 high schools next month but this will not be enough to prevent future occurrences. The education ministry should conduct a regular checkup of the NEIS system and fire principals and teachers caught cooking student records.

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