By Chung Hyun-chae
A growing number of university students are delaying graduation because it is becoming harder to find jobs.
Such students are called the "NG group", an acronym for "no graduation", among job seekers.
The number of NG students from 26 universities that have more than 10,000 students was 14,900 as of March 2014, almost twice as many as in 2011, according to Rep. Ahn Min-seok of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD).
There are several reasons why students are putting off graduating.
According to a survey by online portal Career, of 463 college students looking for jobs, about 80 percent said they had postponed graduation because they had failed to find a job.
The second biggest reason was that companies preferred "students who have just graduated."
"The companies dislike graduates who have had a long break ― they regard them as incompetent," said a job seeker surnamed Gu, 24.
Although she had the required credits for graduation in June 2013, she has delayed her graduation until now by intentionally not meeting other requirements.
"I have a TOEIC score higher than 950, much higher than the minimum required score of 700 to graduate, but I will not submit it," she said.
Gu failed to gain entry into any of the conglomerates last year and is trying one more time this year while still a college student.
"I will keep my status as a student until I find a job," she said.
Another job seeker, Kim, 24, also decided to spend an extra semester at school to prepare for finding a job.
"Given that it's becoming harder to get a decent job in an even harsher job market, I'm considering applying for an internship that translates into full time," she said. "A lot of internship programs are only available for undergraduates."
In addition, some schools provide job programs that are available only for undergraduates.
"I deeply regret that I graduated early because I cannot participate in various job programs in which students have mock interviews and attend classes to practice for the corporate aptitude test," said a graduate surnamed Lee, 25.
The universities are worried about the situation.
By delaying graduation, the students can use school facilities, including a library and cafeteria.
Some universities have therefore introduced rules to make lingering students pay extra fees.
"It's unfeeling, in a way, but we have to worry about other students' welfare," said a university official, who declined to be named.
About 100 schools nationwide are demanding additional fees for students who have delayed graduation.