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Advisory body launched to push for college reform plan
SEOUL, July 1 (Yonhap) -- The education ministry launched a college restructuring committee Friday that will be responsible for reviewing guidelines for shutting down shoddy schools and other measures to reform private and state-run universities, officials said.

   The committee's formation came out of a government drive to weed out poorly managed colleges before injecting state funds to curb soaring tuitions. Officials have said that an equal provision of funds to all schools would be a waste of taxpayer money and could end up as a lifeline for uncompetitive colleges.

   The committee is made up of 20 civilian experts in the legal, accounting, business and education sectors, officials said.

   President Lee Myung-bak has also called for college restructuring as a condition for providing government money to universities. Lowering tuitions has become a top policy priority for political parties ahead of next year's major elections.

   The committee will be tasked with reviewing restructuring plans, including kicking out poorly managed schools, merging state-funded universities and cutting loan programs for uncompetitive colleges suffering from student shortages, officials said.

   Committee members will hold their first meeting on Tuesday, officials said.

   In South Korea, 80 percent of higher education institutions are operated by private foundations that rely heavily on tuition for revenue.

   Currently, the committee is an advisory panel, but it will gain the official status as an education reform council should the pending bill on the college restructuring plan wins parliamentary approval, officials said.