Five underperforming public universities in South Korea will have to undergo drastic reforms under government supervision, the education ministry said Friday. The five state-funded four-year universities -- Kangwon National University, Chungbuk National University, Gangneung-Wonju National University, Kunsan National University and Busan National University of Education -- are required to draw up reform measures by January next year and have the government check the progress each quarter. The uncompetitive schools are also expected to merge or shut down departments and invite external consultants for management advice, an attempt to save taxpayers\' money as students protest high tuition fees at local universities. The five universities will be subject to budget cuts and other penalties unless their restructuring plans show progress. In a similar move, the education authorities said earlier this month they will reduce state funding for 43 low-ranked private universities starting next year. The government here reportedly spends some 1.48 billion U.S. dollars annually in state subsidies to local higher-learning institutions. More than 80 percent of South Korean high school graduates go to colleges.