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Yonsei Univ. President`s Deploring Message

Posted August. 16, 2004 21:55,   


“Korean universities almost seem to abandon education.”

Jung Chang-young (61), the president of Yonsei University, put a posting deploring issues which Korean university education are facing on the internet site of the university.

President Jung, in “a letter to my dear students,” wrote, “[Korean universities] don’t seem to have a great interest in or pay attention toward students,” adding, “The current situation is that factories in Korea produce the best products in the world, but universities don’t produce the best human resources.” He pointed out, “Because of that, we often hear that college students are not doing much studying or they spend the whole year playing.”

He not only criticized the painful situation but also provided solutions to the problem. “We have to embrace the basics. The most important thing for a university is to educate and to research. A drastic improvement of the education quality of the undergraduate and graduate schools is very much required.”

He made some tangible suggestions such as strict school management, redesigning the student workload, providing special care to the academic overachievers, and decreasing the number of part-time faculty by utilizing the honorary, adjunct, and institute professors.

He emphasized the research function enhancement in relation to the improvement of the education quality. ”The ease of research will be the foundation for the university’s existence.”

He also pointed out, “Continuous recruitment of the best faculty members who have competitive edges even in the international level is a must,” adding, “We need to give special treatments such as offering incentives to the top 10 percent faculty members who achieve excellence in their research fields.”

He also suggested how to raise enough funds to build the internationally acclaimed education and research institute. The suggestions include: 10 percent budget cuts in management and purchasing; separate fund raising of the university headquarters, colleges, and departments; systemically mining for new big donors; and raising public acceptance for the practice of accepting sub-par students in exchange for a contribution.

He added,” The role of a university president should be focused on fund raising and evaluation of senior level members of the institute as seen in examples from developed countries. The university headquarters should only serve the essential functions such as planning and arbitration, and all other management functions are handled by each unit.”

Finally, he said, “We should feel the sense of urgency that the country and the educational institutes can only survive when Korean universities are able to win in the global competition. We have to accept the continuous innovation as our imminent task, and I will do my best as a steward.”

Seong-Chul Hong lycho@donga.com