A few months ago, an anonymous writing was posted on the online community of Chung-Ang University. The student disclosed that he or she is a student of the Department of Craft and wrote about all the dissatisfactions of absurd customs of the department. The Department of Craft collected 490,000 won from the students as a student membership fee. Moreover, students have to pay for an entrance fee when they participate in the department events. The participation is generally compulsive and someone who does not participate in the events should pay another penalty. Though the time has gone since this writing was posted, the situation is not that different from the beginning. This situation is not only for Department of Craft. Every year, when the new semester begins, many questions about student membership fee are posted on the online community. Should students pay for the fee even though they are not going to participate in the department events? And should they pay for the fee not knowing where and how the fee is used?
What is the student membership fee?
Student membership fee is the money which is collected by members of the group that students are the main agent. The money is used for the school festivals and many other events and is managed by an independent student body. It is different from tuition fee that is run by the school administration, and it is collected all at once in the first year of school life. Each university and department has a different amount for the fee but the average is 10 to 60 thousand won. The kinds of the fee also vary; university membership fee, college membership fee, and department membership fee. The university membership fee is managed by the student body of the university. The student body distributes the fee to each of the colleges and the colleges distribute the fee to each of the departments. As this stage comes down, the amount of money is reduced. To make atonement for this reduced money, each colleges and departments collect student membership fee.
Problems of collecting student membership fee
Collecting student membership fee itself is not a problem. Much money is needed for school supplies, festivals, and other various events. If you consider all these expenses, the money from the student body is certainly insufficient. Carrying forward these events without the help of university administration eats much money. Student membership fee is helpful for these circumstances. Then, what is the problem? Compulsive collecting of the fee is the problem.
The hot issue, the Department of Craft freshman explained, that if they do not pay the student membership fee and do not participate in the department events, they will get disadvantages in scholarship selection. Some universities made the list of the students who did not pay the fee and posted on a wall on campus. In some cases, teaching assistants himself or herself called the student and pressed for payment. What is more, in the case of university membership fees, there are no explanations of the fee so many students and parents do not know of its existence since it is included on the tuition bill. They just pay it when they pay the tuition fee.
Ways of collecting student membership fee
There are two ways of collecting a student membership fee. The first one is a combined bill system in which the student membership fee is included in the tuition fee bill. This method shows little forcibleness and most universities are using this method. When using combined billing systems, the payment rate is very high, but it can violet students’ rights to pay the student membership fee. The second method is an autonomy payment system. This system separates tuition fee and student membership fee so only students who want to pay the student membership fee can pay the fee. However, this system can give a bad effect to managing a student body since it leads to a low payment rate. A few years ago, ‘K’ University chose this autonomy payment system. At that time, the student body strongly protested to the university that the administration tries to incapacitate the student body. Unlike ‘K’ University, ‘S’ University chose a combined bill system and since it adopts a faculty system, most departments do no collect a department membership fee. Under the faculty system, students choose their department when they become a senior so there is no clear subject to collect the fee. Chung-Ang University is using a combined bill system and charges 7,500 won for the student membership fee in the tuition bill.
Interview with students
- Interview with student body member of College of Arts
1. How is the student membership fee used?
Since my department does the handcraft, we need much money for goods and materials. We also do machine works so there is an electric bill and gas bill too. We use student membership fees to manage these usages. And we have many various events, so spending on these events is also big.
2. How do you inform the usage of the student membership fee?
We uncover all the usages when students ask to know them. We do not have an official time to uncover the history of usages, but at any time when students inquire of the history, we open the receipts to public. And we are going to disclose the history of the usages at the coming general meeting.
- Interview with a student of the College of Liberal Arts who pays the fee
1. Do you know the usage of student membership fee?
Yes. I heard that the student membership fee is used for various department events, field trips, festivals, general meetings, and so on. And the members of student body uncover the usages at the general meeting.
2. What do you think about collecting student membership fee?
I do not feel bad about collecting student membership fee itself. The fee is eventually spent on us, students. However, the problem is that the student body collects four years fee all at once. I think it is irrational that paying membership fee in advance of four years for events in which I do not know whether I will participate or not. Moreover, we have to pay other money when participating in these events. Also, there is a penalty to the students who do not pay the fee. But, the student body says that paying the fee is completely free.
Improvements of compulsive collecting.
As you can read from this article, the university has to give much effort to improve the compulsive collecting of student membership fee. For one thing, the student body must uncover the breakdown of the fee. However the student body collects the fee, the basic problem is how they use student’s money. The student body should prepare all the receipts and let students know the usage of the fee. Secondly, the problems of the membership fee should be publicized. Since the student membership fee is much smaller than the tuition fee, people can be easily senseless to the membership fee. The government also has to take a step forward to solve this problem. What is more, university students should raise their ownership of the school. The student membership fee is for the students not for any other people. Students have to try hard to know the usage of their fee.
No one informs students about the student membership fee voluntarily. Look carefully where and how your membership fee is used. When students give attention to their school, the school will progress inside and outside the school.
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