(LEAD) Gov’t accepts university chiefs’ request on med school enrollment quota: PM

The government has accepted a request from the chiefs of six national universities for flexibility in expanding the medical school enrollment quota, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said Friday, a decision that raised hopes for an end to the protracted walkout by trainee doctors. The six universities, all located outside the capital region, suggested scaling back the increase by up to half Thursday, as more than 90 percent of the country's 13,000 trainee doctors have walked away from their duties at general hospitals since Feb. 20 in protest of the government's decision to add 2,000 more medical school admissions starting in 2025. The six -- Gangwon National University, Kyungpook National University, Gyeongsang National University, Chungnam National University, Chungbuk National University and Jeju National University -- asked that they be allowed to lower the quotas assigned to them by up to 50 percent next year. Under the decision that is largely considered a compromise, 32 universities will be permitted to increase their admission quotas freely, with the range of the annual increase ranging between 50 percent and 100 percent, starting in 2025. "The government accepts the suggestion from the presidents of national universities in a forward-looking manner," Han said during a press briefing following a government meeting. Han emphasized that the government's decision aims to break the deadlock, protect medical students and normalize medical education, after procedures and surgeries have been canceled at major hospitals across the country. "(The government) cannot afford to leave the damage caused by the medical vacuum unattended," Han said, adding that the universities must decide on their increased quotas by the end of this month. Amid the standoff, the presidential office has hinted at adjusting the number of additional admissions, which currently stands at 2,000. Source: Yonhap News Agency