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Reforms of Korean Colleges Wasted 10 Years

Posted January. 28, 2005 22:40,   


Reforms have been in the works since 1995 to promote the competitiveness of colleges, but the level of Korea’s college education competitiveness among the world’s mainstream countries has hit rock bottom.

Accordingly, with the inauguration of newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Kim Jin-pyo, many in the economic world are crying out for urgent policies for the expansion of Korean universities’ competitiveness.

The future for a college education reform remains murky, however, as education communities are protesting against the deterioration of rudimental studies, such as liberal arts and social sciences, in case of a hasty commercialism of higher education.

According to a report, “Blueprint of College Reform, Reform Stage 2,” by the Korea Development Institute (KDI) on January 28, the ratio of the highly educated in Korea is relatively high, but the competitiveness of college education or provision capacity of technicians for companies is falling behind.

KDI revealed that by citing a 2003 study done by International Institute for Management Development (IMD), a Swiss institution evaluating a country’s competitiveness, Korea’s ratio of intellectuals (survey subjects are from 25 to 34 years of age) ranked third out of 30 nations.

In the “College Education Meets Consumption of Competitive Society” category, however, Korea fell to 28th place and scraped by in 25th place for the “Qualified Technicians Meet Labor Market Needs” section.

For the “Education System Meets Competitive Society Consumption” category, Korea also remained in the lower tier at 21st place, with a mediocre rank of 16th in the “Rapport between Colleges and Businesses” category.

In reality, domestic companies are expressing dissatisfaction at the aptitude of graduates.

The results from a recent research surveying the college education satisfaction levels of personnel managements at 223 companies by the Federation of Korean Industries showed a 26-point average out of a total of 100 points. KDI senior researcher Woo Chun-shik, who participated in preparing for the KDI college reform report, said, “In the past 20 years, the government focused on the quantity expansion of college policies instead of the quality content,” and advised, “The government should dissolve various restraints on universities and give freedom for universities to compete against each other, leading to a natural reform.”

Jong sik Kong Chang-Won Kim kong@donga.com changkim@donga.com