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Education ministry cracks down on universities’ careless dispensing of funds, travel passes

Anxiety is in the air after North Korea’s education ministry disciplined the scientific research departments of three prominent universities for carelessly providing research funds and travel passes to Pyongyang, Daily NK has learned.

“The scientific research departments of several universities both in Pyongyang and elsewhere in the country distributed large amounts of research funds and one-month travel passes to Pyongyang to inappropriate people and projects in January. As a result, the Ministry of Education raised the issue with the universities last week and informed them of its disciplinary measures,” a source in North Korea told Daily NK on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

North Korea maintains scientific research departments at universities across the country to handle the administrative aspects of funding professors’ research and reviewing the awarding of academic degrees and promotions.

The Ministry of Education has regularly provided these scientific research departments with Pyongyang travel passes, research funds, and permission to issue degrees and promotions, the source said.

The Pyongyang travel passes in particular were issued so that the professors of the provincial universities could personally visit the Grand People’s Study House to get the documents and other materials needed for their research.

But the universities have been issuing Pyongyang travel passes to professors who wanted to visit Pyongyang for personal reasons unrelated to their research and giving research grants to people unrelated to actual research, prompting the Ministry of Education to get involved, the source said.

Just three schools face reprimands – for now

The education ministry has raised questions at the scientific research departments of three universities: the University of Science and Technology (located in Pyongyang), Hamhung University of Pharmacology, and Kim Jong-suk University of Education.

As part of the ministry’s disciplinary action, the scientific research department at the University of Science and Technology in Pyongyang will be forced to issue fewer diplomas and promotions in the spring semester, and the scientific research departments at the two provincial universities will be restricted from issuing one-month travel passes to Pyongyang.

“The ministry said that it is against Workers’ Party principles for the Pyongyang travel passes and research funds entrusted to the departments to be used by unrelated persons and that such violations will be punished according to the law and party policies. The ministry seems to be planning to start the year by imposing the law on the departments,” the source said.

The disciplinary measures taken against university-level scientific research departments both inside and outside Pyongyang and the threat to punish further violations both at the party and legal levels have caused anxiety in such departments across the country, the source said.

“The most important performance indicator for university-level scientific research departments is how many academic degrees and promotions are awarded in a given year. As a result, the disciplinary step of reducing the number of internships for students and professors ultimately means that the department will have a poor performance for the year. That’s why other scientific research departments are taking precautions so that they don’t suffer disciplinary measures as well.”

Translated by David Carruth. Edited by Robert Lauler.

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

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February 23, 2024 at 11:30AM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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