Two Korean universities ordered to close

Two universities in South Jeolla Province will be closed for corruption after failing to follow government demands to reform, the Education Ministry said on Monday.

The ministry said that Myungshin University in Suncheon and Sungwha College in Gangjin will be shut down in December because they violated the law on higher education by committing "serious corruption and irregularities" such as embezzlement and creating fake documents.

The irregularities were found in a special inquiry by the ministry earlier this year.

"We made the decision to close the two schools to protect students' right to study and ensure the quality of higher education. We will continue to take similar measures to poorly managed schools," Education Minister Lee Ju-ho told a news briefing.

Myungshin University violated the law by mismanaging students' grades and classes and also failing to recoup the embezzled money. Sungwha College was blacklisted due to embezzlement by its founder and other wrongdoing, including giving out credits to students who hadn't completed required class hours.

As the two schools are ordered to close next month, the ministry will assist students currently attending the schools in transferring to nearby schools. The schools will not be allowed to accept freshmen next year, officials said.

About 30 high school graduates admitted to Myungshin University for 2012 through the early application process will have their admission cancelled so that they can apply to other schools during the regular college application period.

The ministry has implemented college restructuring to sort out badly managed schools in line with efforts to lower college tuition since July.

"College restructuring is the government's priority to deal with the decreasing number of school-age children and to strengthen the quality of universities in the long term," said Lee.

The two schools are the first to be closed since the college restructuring process got underway.

Two universities, Gwangju Art School and Asia University, were closed in 2000 and 2008, respectively, before the latest college restructuring effort. They were found to have conducted illegal practices such as submitting fake documents when registring as a school.

The college restructuring committee has selected 46 universities with poor performances in September that will face cuts to government subsidies or restriction in student loans. The panel is expected to finalize a list of schools with bad management at the end of the year.

Some of the 46 struggling schools are expected to be included again on the blacklist.

Myungshin and Sungwha were two of the 17 schools restricted in student loans.

The schools blacklisted for two consecutive years for their poor performance have a higher chance of getting axed.