The Korea Herald


Students, parents slam med school quota allocation as 'reverse discrimination,' file lawsuit

By Lim Jae-seong

Published : March 20, 2024 - 18:07

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Medical personnel are seen at Chonnam National University Hospital in Gwangju on Wednesday. (Yonhap) Medical personnel are seen at Chonnam National University Hospital in Gwangju on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

A group of students and parents from Seoul on Wednesday filed lawsuits in a bid to stop the government's move to increase the annual medical school enrollment quota.

The group consisting of 17 people, including high school seniors, their parents and med school students in Seoul, filed an administrative lawsuit against Education Minister Lee Ju-ho and Health and Welfare Minister Cho Kyoo-hong, in which they said the government measures are illegal, according to local media reports.

The group also claims that the government measures are discriminatory against students in Seoul who hope to go to medical schools, as the majority of the increased quota has been allocated to universities outside the Greater Seoul Area.

The education minister on Wednesday afternoon announced the exact number of students that each medical school will be allowed to receive from 2025, allocating over 80 percent of the new seats to universities outside of Seoul and its surrounding areas.

Medical schools in Seoul gained no new seats as part of the quota increase, while five schools in Incheon and Gyeonggi Province received 361 new seats -- 18 percent of the total quota increase. Schools outside the Greater Seoul Area received 1,639 new spaces with 151 allocated at Chungbuk National University in North Chungcheong Province and 124 at Gyeongsang National University in South Gyeongsang Province.

The plaintiffs called the allocation “reverse discrimination” against residents of Seoul. The government's plan, which was announced in February, was to regulate each school to fill up to 60 percent of its seats with students living in the province where the school is located.

Lawyer Lee Byung-cheol, the legal representative for the plaintiffs, told local media the same day that parents in the Greater Seoul Area were furious about the allocation announcement.

Lee argued that the measure goes against fairness and common sense by allowing students with relatively lower grades from local schools to enter medical schools, while students in Seoul will have to go through fierce competition.

Two more similar lawsuits have already been filed by the Medical Professors Association of Korea -- a coalition of professors from 33 medical schools -- and trainee doctors since March 5.

While the former lawsuits accompanied a request to suspend the government’s quota expansion, Lee has asked the court to include the allocation issue into the scope of a suspension order, the lawyer said.