North Korea has established a new “Kim Il Sung University (KISU) Fund” in an effort to raise finances to support the institution, an article published on its Naenara web portal said on Monday.
KISU, the first university to be built in North Korea and the country’s most prestigious educational institution, is primarily aiming to attract foreign donations.
“Kim Il Sung University Fund has been founded with the aim of encouraging non-governmental bodies and organizations of different countries, overseas Koreans and individual persons to render financial and material assistance to education and scientific research,” Naenara said.
The Naenara article said the level of funding to be solicited will be based on “the voluntary will of donors” and that the university will offer rewards for those who contribute.
“Kim Il Sung University Council is authorized to issue certificates to donors, give wide publicity to them and organize tour(s) of scenic spots in the country for them,” the article said.
KISU is a publicly run university and relies on the government for funding, unlike the Pyongyang University for Science and Technology (PUST), which is North Korea’s only privately funded university.
Establishing funds and attempting to attract finances is common practice among universities worldwide, however the financial state of KISU is unknown and it is unclear whether the establishment of the fund is an indication of possible financial issues.
“All universities try to attract funds, research funds or donations and so it is normal university business…it would not necessarily indicate that a particular university is having financial difficulties,” said Kyung-Ae Park, the Korea Foundation Chair at the Institute of Asian Research of the University of British Columbia (UBC).
“So in North Korea’s case whether this is an admission of significant financial difficulties or not that I do not know.”
The article goes on to claim that the university is “making a tangible contribution to human civilization, social progress and development of education and science,” touting exchanges with foreign institutions.
Park, also the director of the DPRK Knowledge Partnership Program (KPP), an academic exchange program, says that KISU has been keen to promote foreign participation but indicated that the creation of the fund is something unfamiliar.
An almost identical article promoting the fund also appeared on the university’s website, listing contact details, including an email and a fax number, seemingly for potential donors.
“The university extends deep thanks to the donors once again, and expects that the support and donation will proceed more actively,” the article said.
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Featured Image: Kim Il Sung University by D-Stanley on 2010-10-08 17:43:18