YU students residential conditions
One issue is that due to residential conditions we are often divided and live alone in the dormitory, boarding houses, houses for examinations, and at home. Currently, the number of students and foreign students who live in the dormitories totals 2,486. However, there are 23,949 students who attend Yeungnam University. That means only 13% of the students live on campus. At Kyungpook National University, there are 20,400 students and they accommodate 18% of their students in the dormitories. At Daegu University, there are 10,300 students and they accommodate 20% of them in the dormitories. Keimyung University is probably most similar to YU in student body size and being a private university, but YU accommodates more students in dormitories than Keimyung University which only houses 9% of their students.
The residential life of YU students
Presently, one-room apartments located at the front of YU cost anywhere from 500,000 won to 2,000,000 won for a deposit and 200,000 won to 430,000 won as monthly rent. However, written contracts and advance payment of yearly rent are rare conditions. The old one-room apartments are over 10 years old and generally cost 200,000 won to 250,000 won a month. Semi-new one-room apartments usually cost 1,000,000 won for a deposit and 300,000 won as monthly rent. One-room apartments located at the front gate of YU have many convenient facilities, so they are more expensive than most of the others. New apartments cost so much because of the effect of the subway station, so they start at 380,000 won as monthly rent. Apartments that have existed for a long time have not raised their prices. Apartments at the east gate are comparatively inexpensive. The most expensive room costs 430,000 won and gives the impression of a very pleasant studio apartment. There are CCTV security cameras, Japanese furniture and the faucets in the sinks are high quality. The cheapest room costs 200,000 won a month. Rooms that cost 200,000 won to 250,000 won for monthly rent are not pleasant. They are like old motels. However, a dormitory room costs 120,000 won on average a month per semester not including meal costs. In comparison the cheapest one room apartment costs 200,000 won. It can be a burden to students.
On October 29th, 2012, a man broke into an one-room apartment building in the Imdang-dong area through a broken gate which had not been fixed and raped a female resident. On February 28th, 2013 a man broke into an apartment in Jeoyoung-dong through a window and raped the woman who was living there. These are just two examples of many that show how these older buildings can be unsafe. Yeungnam University has the highest rate of sexual crime of all universities in Korea. Presently, new apartment buildings have CCTV cameras installed, but most of the buildings do not have any kind of security measures, and there are many blind spots.
Efforts for solving residential problems
Support from the university
In order to address these issues, YU should expand dormitories to accommodate more students. YU should also find alternative methods of support like live alone scholarships for students who cannot live in the dormitory. For example, Yeonsei University has a “slug scholarship.” This scholarship provides living expenses for students who live alone and boarding house students. The slug scholarship selects 120 students every semester and then gives them 150,000 won every month.
Support from the government
Moreover, the government should provide funds to install CCTV cameras and place guards around one room apartment areas for safety. The local government should address residential problems. The Seoul City government provides support in various ways. However, the Daegu City and Gyeongsangbuk-do governments do not provide much support. The local governments could take the example of Seodaemun-gu. “The Dreaming Attic” is being built by Seodaemun-gu. This house used to be a residence for elderly people. Sixteen tenants have been selected. There will be a 1,000,000 won deposit and it will cost 40,000 to 50,000 won every month. Nowon-gu implements a room sharing program that is connected with elderly people who have surplus living space and universities that have housing shortages. These elderly people loan rooms to students and the students provide assistance to them. In addition, Seoul’s “Hope Housing” program is another good example. Seoul provides university rental houses for students at 20-30% of the actual cost. “Hope Housing” is divided into one-room apartments and multi room households. In the one-room apartments two people in a room pay 1,000,000 won as a deposit and about 130,000 won a month for rent, and in the multi room household one resident pays 1,000,000 won as a deposit and 80,000 to 90,000 won month for rent.
Interview with YU’s planning team
Q) Why are freshman primarily selected to live in the dormitory?
A) The reason why we select a higher percentage of freshman students is to help them adapt to university life easily. YU dormitory rooms are allocated as follows: 60% to freshmen, 20% to sophomores, 10% to juniors and 10% to seniors. In addition, we consider the students’ distance from school, the average of exam grades over two semesters before applying to live in the dormitories as well as their general attitude regarding living in the dormitory. As you can see the vast majority of the rooms are allocated to freshmen, and the competition for upper classmen is strong. If an upper classmen wants to live in the dormitory they must get good grades.
Q) The dormitory acceptance rate is about 13%. Are there plans to expand YU’s housing facilities?
A) For now, we have no plans to expand dormitory housing. There are many reasons for this condition. Primarily, there is a lack of resources. Most tuition revenue is spent on students and professors' monthly salaries, as well as improvement of research and classroom facilities. It is also difficult to decide on a new policy. The Korea Foundation for the Promotion of Private Schools does not give these funds without conditions. The school must pay off its loan within 20 years. This way of building new dormitories is possible for universities in Seoul. Seoul universities can repay the money because they charge more dormitory fees to students. In contrast, the case of YU is difficult because if YU borrows money to build a new dormitory and requires students to pay 300,000 won per student to pay the debt, there will be resistance. Buildings are not built easily because the money slips through our fingers as soon as we begin to build. Furthermore, most students do not live in the dormitory, so they will have complaints because they will get no benefit from the fees we charge them.
Q) Are there any more suggestions from students regarding the housing problem?
A) Naturally, if Yeungnam University received tuition revenue like universities in Seoul, we could do a lot more for our students. However, it is impossible given our current budget. The global interchange center can provide some relief. The global interchange center can accommodate 240 people. Then if foreign students that live in the dormitory E building move to the global interchange center, 240 more students can live there.
In the case of rooms that are rented during exam periods or “exam-tels,” they are generally dark because they are not located in sunny areas. As for boarding houses, during vacation periods, the owners do not serve meals. Most buildings break minimum distance maintenance rules between rooms and there are also semi-basement apartments that have no access to sunshine. Moreover, noise is a serious problem because bars are often located in the same buildings as the apartments. Students who live near the back gate of YU are often forced to only use electricity late at night because the rates are cheaper. One student said that he had to pay too much for his electric bill because in the winter, the floor heating system is powered by electricity. He also has difficulty surviving without air-conditioning in the summer.
Yeungnam University students feel the strain of trying to find a decent place to live. People need food, clothing, and shelter to live. Stable living affects how students study. In the future, the federal government, local governments, and universities should make a stronger effort to solve student residential issues.
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