Higher education has two kinds of systems: academic higher education and higher education for continuing education. The academic higher education system includes three kinds of institutions: universities, professional schools, and technical schools. Graduate schools for master and doctoral level studies are attached to universities.
In North Korea, only a few universities and colleges are well known. There are a few leading universities and professionally specialized universities. The following universities are playing leading roles in their specialized areas: Kim Il-Sung University in Humanities and Social Science, Kim Chaeck Engineering University in heavy industry, Koryo Sung Kyun Kwan University in engineering, Pyongyang Medical College, and Kim Hyung Jik College of Education.
Higher education plays the very important role of supplying the revolutionary ruling elite for the party and government. The major and leading universities are major sources of elite production. In addition, various kinds of specialized institutes develop professional and managerial manpower. For this reason, emphasis is given to intensive political education. The management of the universities is under the direct supervision of the Party's Education Committee.
In 1965, there were 98 higher education schools with 156,000 students and 7,601 teachers. In 1975, school numbers increased to 150 but the number of students (92,000) and teachers (4,490) decreased. After that the numbers increased again; there were 234 schools, a total of 280,000 students, and 23,000 teachers in 1985. In 1996 school numbers reached 286 with 310,000 students. The identity of the large number of universities is not confirmed. It is just assumed that most of them are the type of attached university for continuing education.
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