Ministry to cut aid to low-rated law schools

To promote the closure and consolidation of law schools with poor bar exam pass rates, the education ministry has decided to rate all 73 of the nation's law schools and distribute subsidies and grants based on those evaluations, sources said.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry will halve such assistance to the law schools that receive the lowest rating, according to the sources.

The ministry plans to introduce the classification system in fiscal 2015.

According to the ministry, the scores will be based on factors including law schools' bar exam pass rates and student enrollment relative to the schools' capacity. The ministry also will evaluate the 73 law schools' efforts to improve the quality of their education.

Based on these criteria, the ministry will classify the 73 schools into five groups.

Law schools put in the highest-rated group will receive full subsidies and grants, but funds will be reduced incrementally for the schools in lower groups.

If law schools fail to take effective measures to improve the bar exam pass rates of their students, the ministry will cut the subsidies substantially, the sources said.

The first law schools under the current system opened in 2004 as part of judicial system reform to increase the number of legal professionals. However, 74 law schools opened one after another as the government allowed many universities to set up such institutions.

Many of the schools have failed to produce strong results. Some, for example, have had less than 10 students pass the national bar exam.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of people are taking a preliminary qualification test. People who pass are eligible to take the bar exam without going to law school.

The government's Ministerial Committee for the System to Nurture the Legal Profession decided in July to promote the closure and consolidation of law schools with poor bar exam pass rates.