Weekly Magazine THE STAR


Blooming This Weeks's Issues : Education

For some college students, ‘F’ is better than ‘B’

Mar 05, 2014                                      
Edited by Ms. Ji-yeon Kim

 Seoul National University held its graduation ceremony on Wednesday and presented honor student awards for those who finished with grade point averages higher than 3.6 out of 4.3. In a bizarre twist, however, the number of honor students nearly equaled the number of ordinary students, with the former accounting for 44 percent of the 2,591 graduates. The percentage of honor students at the country’s top university has increased by more than 10 percent in just three years.  An SNU official said it was “grade inflation,” in which an abnormally large number of students end up graduating with honors. Many students retake courses and they get a good grade. It leads grade to inflation. Most Korean universities allow students to retake courses if they are not satisfied with their grades. Students repeatedly take the same courses until they receive top grades, effectively “laundering” their report cards with high grades. This forces some students to attend college for five or even six years. Moreover the policy which is so-called “report card for job seekers,” which omits the lowest “F” grades is performed in another universities. Naturally the grades and the total GPA on this special report card appear higher than the actual academic achievement of students, giving them an edge in the job market. According to data revealed by Saenuri lawmaker Kim Hee-jung at last year’s parliamentary audit, at least 75 percent of colleges in Korea issue these “F”-free report cards. As a result, many students having trouble in classes ask their professors for an “F,” rather than “D,” “C,” or even “B.” “The ministry had been discussing the issue of so-called grade inflation, but we had difficulty grasping the full extent of the problem. The parliamentary audit gave us the final nudge,” said an official from the Education Ministry. She said each college is to come up with its own measures to eradicate grade laundering and alert the ministry of the changes by March. If the ministry decides the plans are ineffective, it will take matters into its own hands and the schools will be subject to punishment. Even those who accepted the new policy decried the schools for changing it without consulting the students.  “We thought it was wrong for the school to unilaterally revise the rules without even asking our opinions,” Choi Jong-un, the president of the Korea University Student Union, said. He said although the union decided the rule change was the right thing to do overall, students’ point of views should have been reflected. One professor said the efforts by universities may not be enough to get rid of the widespread grade laundering.  He said companies should take a bigger role by making it clear that they will work to establish a competence-based job market. Rather than pick students with good grades from prestigious schools, the companies should hire people who are best prepared to do the jobs that they are paid to do.

Word Check

● bizarre [bɪ|zɑ:rərɪ] : [ADJ] very unusual or strange
● parliamentary [pɑ:rləmentəri] : [ADJ] relating to, or governed by a parliament
● nudge [nʌdʒ] : [VERB] to push someone gently, usually with your elbow, in order to get their attention
● eradicate [ɪrædɪkeɪt]: [VERB] to completely get rid of something such as a disease or a social problem


1. What is he main idea of the article?

2. What is your best value on your campus life? Do you think it is more priceless thing compared with grade?

3. Recently, it is a hot issue which is ‘the credit abandonment system.’ In order to the course credit laundering, you also think it is necessary thing? Share your opinion.