Council approves 1st medical school admission hike in 27 yrs for 2025

May 24, 2024

The council for university admissions approved an increase in next year’s medical school admission quota on Friday, finalizing the first such hike in 27 years aimed at addressing medical service shortages in rural areas and essential medical fields.

The approval by the Korean Council for University Education, an association of university presidents, came more than three months after the Yoon Suk Yeol government announced a plan to add 2,000 more seats to the medical school quota starting next year as part of a broader medical reform initiative.

In March, the education ministry allocated 2,000 additional medical school admission seats to universities, many of them to schools outside the greater Seoul area. Since then, the beneficiary universities have revised their admission regulations for next year to accommodate the increase and submitted them to the council for approval.

During its meeting on Friday, the council’s admission committee unanimously approved an increase of 1,469 additional admission seats across 31 universities with medical schools, accounting for all but one school allocated a quota hike.

Including a 40-seat hike at Cha University, which is not a member of the council, the total increase will be 1,509, bringing the total number of medical school seats across the nation to 4,567.

The increase is lower than the initially announced 2,000 increase because some universities have chosen not to fully utilize their allocated increases amid stiff resistance from trainee doctors and medical students protesting the quota hike.

Following Friday’s decision, the universities are expected to publicly announce their 2025 admission plans by late May, making the highly contested quota hike final and irreversible.

“The only process remaining is for each university to post their (2025) admission plans between May 25 and 31 … once the announcements are made, they can’t be reversed due to exam takers and parents,” an education ministry official said.

This image shows a medical school. (Yonhap)
This image shows a medical school. (Yonhap)

The hike in the medical quota, currently at 3,058, marks the first such increase since 1998, when a medical school was added to Jeju National University.

It remains uncertain, however, whether the finalization of the quota hike will prompt protesting trainee doctors to return to their duties at general hospitals.

For over three months, more than 90 percent of intern and resident doctors have been on a walkout in protest of the medical quota hike, which they claim will seriously erode the quality of health care services and medical education.