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Jan 16, 2013

[Chosun IIbon Newspaper] Editorial: Get Meaning of “One million Students Who Take a Leave of Absence from College”

If Japan accepts TPP, Japan will be in the same situation.
Although Obama tries to avoid a war, he will forcibly press Japan to accept TPP.  I wonder if the LDP led by Abe, whose Achilles heel on fraud election U.S. has discovered, can resist such pressure.

Masatoshi Takeshita
January 10, 2013

English translation of an editorial of Chosun IIbon Newspaper (Japanized version): January 8, 2013 –

[Editorial] Get Meaning of “One million Students Who Take a Leave of Absence from College”

Reportedly, 933,000 Korean college students, which account for 31 percent of 2.988 million Korean college students, are on a leave of absence.  In case when all institutions of higher education such as graduate schools and open universities are included, the number of such students reaches 1,104,000.  There is a case that 47 percent of college students enrolled is on a leave of absence and another case that 83 percent of students are on a leave of absence in a department.

The ratio of college students on a leave of absence exceeded 30 percent after the Asian currency crisis and has never decreased thereafter; we have never seen the number below 900,000.  Now the concept of a college has been changed: it is a place where students are supposed to attend for five or six years.

Less than 60 percent of university graduates find employment and “secure employment” provided by corporations is long in increasing.  For this reason, it has become indispensable in college life to take a leave of absence and acquire “ability and experience advantageous to college students to find employment” such as good scores of TOEFL (Test of English Proficiency as a Foreign Language) and TOEIC (Test of English for International communication), various qualifications, award-winning achievements, internship experience, and overseas language training.  As corporations increasingly demand applicants to have such ability or experience, college students have developed the belief that good performance in college alone is no warranty of employment.

Sixty-eight percent of college students start out in life on a debt of 13 million won on average (approximately 990,000 yen) due to loaned scholarship fund.  One out of four students has to take one-semester off every other year or every two years and make money to pay for expensive tuition fees and living costs.  Many students have a sense of crisis that if they cannot find jobs immediately after graduation and have moratorium, it is more difficult to get a chance to find employment, and try to postpone graduation.  They are called “group of graduation moratorium.”  Such students on a leave of absence are virtually jobless workers, but are not reflected in the statistics on young unemployed workers.

Korean young people start economic activities at the age of 25 on average and college graduates at the age of 27.  Compared with the average age of 22.9 for Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member nations, Koreans start activities two to four years later.  With an increase of students on a leave of absence, young people are all the more later in starting out in life.  Late employment results in late marriage, which will more seriously affect a decrease in the number of children.  Some statistics show that half of students on a leave depend on their parents for a living.  The generation of their parents who are anxious about their old age is going to burden a new burden.

There were 168,000 college students in the 1970s and now are 3 million students.  After founding of a college was liberalized in 1996, the number of college students rapidly increased by more than 1 million.  At that time, 1 million college students, who are equal to current students on a leave of absence in number, were born anew.  Korean government’s college policy without foresight imposed a heavy debt on the society.  We have to thoroughly review the policy.  Corporations demand the ability, experience and graduation time of students.  It is hard to say that it is a wise policy for employment. An abnormal situation in which one out of three college students are on a leave of absence has driven Korea itself into abnormality.  The meaning of “one million students on a leave of absence from college” is never simple.

Chuson IIbon Newspaper/Japanized version

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