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'Demanding info on parents violates applicants' human right'.

For students applying for need-based scholarships at universities, it is common for applications to ask many questions about their parents. The nation's independent rights body said Monday this violates human rights.

Releasing a statement, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) stated requiring personal information of applicants' parents is in violation of the Personal Information Protection Act and recommended the education minister and 17 regional chief educators guide and oversee universities and scholarship foundations using that practice.

"Today, we recommend the education minister and 17 chief educators send new guidelines and inspect universities and foundations so they will collect only the necessary information from scholarship applicants," the statement said.

The NHRC also declared against requiring applicants to submit a self-statement. "That is like asking applicants to prove how poor you are," the NHRC said, which "can be a huge embarrassment to the students and undermines self-esteem on the part of the applicants."

The NHRC said the practice is more prevalent in universities and private foundations that give scholarships than government scholarships whose personal information collection is more tightly regulated by law.

It also cited other developed countries where personal information collection stays at a minimum for the protection of privacy.

It's unclear how long the practice has been in place in Korea, but students and rights organizations complaining about the practice is nothing new.

Besides parents' academic background, scholarship applicants are required to disclose their jobs, their positions at work, salary and social security number. Many also require photos of applicants, which the NHRC claimed can make hinder fair competition.

The NHRC's move carries significance in that it upholds the rights of individual applicants. It also is in line with "blind hiring," a new trend in recruitment that is spreading fast in the public sector. The government is also pushing the private sector to follow suit.

Yet, scholarship applicants won't see changes right away, as the NHRC's recommendation has no binding force.

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Publication:The Korea Times News (Seoul, Korea)
Date:Dec 29, 2017
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