The controversy over high university tuition fees has been around for a long time, and was featured as a key presidential pledge during the last election. While the economy is entering what seems like a long-term recession, the struggle to get into higher education is greater than ever, a university degree being viewed as the minimum condition for a decent job.
On the other hand, universities have been given the autonomy by the government to set their tuition fees at the level they want, while being protected by the Private Institution Law to conceal what they do with the money. The amendment to this law, frequently mentioned in the comments below, aimed to improve transparency in university management, but was vetoed.
Meanwhile, the amendment to Specialized Credit Financial Business Act increased commission rates for card payment at large affiliate members, such as department stores and golf clubs, and lowered them for small members, such as small restaurants and supermarkets. As universities became included in the large affiliate members, the commissions they now have to pay for each card payment increased, leading them to refuse card payment of tuition fees. The article below delineates the effect of this move to the public who cannot use card installments to pay the fees amounting to millions of won.
From Yonhap News:
Disregarding the pain of the public, 78% of universities refuse credit card fee payments
Due to conflict over commissions paid by the universities, the availability of credit card payments have become even smaller than last semester.
An average 8 out of 10 domestic universities are refusing tuition fee payments by card. This kindled criticism that universities are disregarding the difficulties of the public in preparing large sums of money, amidst the long-term recession.
On the 16th of January, credit card companies revealed that 101 universities out of 450 in total (22.4%) accept fee payments by card.
The proportion is lower than in second term of last year, when 108 universities made card payments available. This is because universities have to pay a higher commission rate (around 1.5~2.0%), due to the revised Specialized Credit Financial Business Act (SCFBA below) including universities in ‘large affiliate members’.
Some universities have withdrawn from the membership in order to avoid paying the expensive commission, relaying the burden to the public who have no control over the issue.
Most parents and students wish to pay the tuition fees by card, because they find it increasingly difficult to prepare sums of money amounting to 4~6 million won all at once. If paying by card, they can pay the amount in monthly installments for 3 to 12 months, which would lighten their economic burden.
The problem is that payments by card have not expanded at all, due to conflicts between card companies and universities; the card companies cannot give up their revenues from commissions and the universities do not mind receiving their fees in cash, instead of by card.
Universities can save billions of credit card commissions a year if all fees were paid in cash. Therefore they are ready to put up with criticism, disregarding any inconvenience their students have to face.
Card companies even formed a consultative group to persuade universities and expand card payment of fees. But their efforts led to nothing, as the revision of SCFBA raised the issue of higher commissions.
Last year, 12-months credit card installment payments were included as one of the methods of paying tuition fees, as part of the ‘revised bill about higher education.’ However, this bill foundered at the National Assembly; now there is little to hope for.
Such lack of cooperation is apparent among higher-ranking universities.
Korea University and Hanyang University do not accept credit card payment of their fees.
There are only 7 universities, including Seoul National University, Chungbuk, Andong, Mokpo and Gang-won, that accept fee payment by Shinhan card, which is leading the credit card industry.
There has been no increase this year, compared to the second term of last year, in the number of universities that accept payments by Hana SK (8 universities), Hyundai (5 universities), BC (37 universities) and Lotte cards (12 universities).
For Samsung card, there used to be 32 universities, but now there are 37 accepting it. For Kookmin card, there is also an increase from 39 to 45 universities accepting it. However there is hardly any increase in the benefit to parents, since the availabilities for different cards mostly overlap.
At least, Samsung and Kookmin cards offer various installment services to reduce the burden on students. Samsung card offers ‘Diet Installment Service’ when paying tuition fees. The ’3-month Diet Installment Service’ is receiving positive response; if the user pays the first interest charge, they don’t have to pay the second and third.
Interest-free installment payment for 2 to 3 months is available with Kookmin cards after applying through their website. In 6-month installment payment, the interest charge is free except the first time.
‘Universities prefer receiving fees in cash, so don’t easily respond to offers by the card companies. It has become even harder to negotiate with the higher commission rate, now that we have a new system for the rates paid by our members,’ said a card company official.
Comments from Nate:
They [universities] do stuff like that because they think about selling things to students. Do universities see new students as students on the first day of the term? Or do they see them as bunches of cash flowing in?
What really is the reason the Korea Foundation for the Promotion of Private School is left untouched?? Do we think it’s normal to pay hundreds of billions as tuition fees?? Is it normal to use tuition fees to invest in funds? Even small merchants accept card payment. Do we think it’s fair that universities refuse card payment, when they receive several millions per person?? Are they protected because of their relations to the Foundation? Is this the so-called ‘we are family’ spirit?? Bastards, tut tut tut.
Students these days are too obedient. In my old days, we took over the university president’s office if the university played that shit. What? Calling me a commie? And who’s paying my tuition fees? You?
I remember a joke made by a comedian who hosted our university festival. Watching the fireworks, he said ‘there goes your tuition fees burning off!!’
Do students get discounts when they pay in cash?? If the commission is as high as 1%, students paying in cash and those by card should pay different amounts.
The private institution law should have been amended….. [The ruling and opposing party] together agreed to autonomy in tuition fee pricing, but opposed the amendment with all their might…ha ha
While rather simplistic, the only way to reduce the university tuition fees is ‘not to go to universities.’ But it’s not an easy matter. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s because of the social atmosphere that treats someone as useless if they haven’t been to university. That’s the problem we have to solve. We need to make a society in which success is attainable without attending universities. Universities are subjected to the law of supply and demand. There is a large demand, so the suppliers can keep raising the price. If we don’t care about universities, the tuition fees will go down.
There are bastards who still blame the late former president Roh for this issue… Those bastards should look up who was actually holding candlelight rallies against amendments to the private institution law. ke ke ke
So this is why university students should vote. The only power the students have is voting power. That power you can use on politicians. The voting rate by people in their 20s was 65%, compared to 89.9% by those in their 50s… Do you feel the difference? The government looks down on people in their 20s. Vote! That’s how you exert your power and shortcut to changes in this country.
Miss Lady President Park promised to cut down tuition fees to half, so just wait a bit more~~
It’s already a contradiction to divide this fucking Korean education system into humanities course and industrial course, tut tut tut. Everyone thinks going to university is the only way to have a decent life later on, so everyone takes out loans to send their children to university. And everyone else sticks around to squeeze pocket money out of the children and make parents sweat. So there you go, this ridiculous educational system itself has created this shitty result, no surprises. tut tut tut
In a comment below someone said ‘shouldn’t the credit card user pay the commissions?’ but it’s only fair that the party who receives the money pays the commissions, while the card user pays annual membership fees.