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[Editorial] Make More University Rankings Public

Posted February. 21, 2005 22:46,   


It is meaningful that the Korean Council for University Education (KCUE), an organization that has led evaluations of academic aspects of Korean universities, began to publicize rankings of universities as of this year. It is fair to say that evaluations by the KCUE have been almost meaningless, as they were short on substance. Without announcing each university’s ranking, the organization used to call most schools “excellent,” while rarely giving the judgment of “unsatisfactory.”

Such an inadequate university evaluation system is something that is unacceptable in the world’s 10th largest economy, with as many as 200 four-year universities. Now, the world is a knowledge society in which competitiveness of universities translates into national strength. It is true that university evaluation is not an easy task, for sure, in that it should yield a fair and reliable result on which all members of universities can concur. Even so, however, that does not mean that a “bubble evaluation” that calls an excess number of universities “excellent,” or the refusal of universities to be evaluated under the pretext that it would create a hierarchy of Korean universities, could be an alternative.

The recently publicized university rankings are confined to three major subjects: mechanical engineering, biotechnology, and journalism and media studies, and made public only the top 10 schools on the list. But what is notable is that several universities that are not considered so-called prestigious schools are included in the top 10. In other words, there is an avenue for all universities to rank high on the list, depending on effort and investment. The announcement of university rankings will discourage the established prestigious schools from being overly proud and stimulate the rest of the schools to develop themselves further.

True, there is room for improvement in the announcement. The council needs to further extend the list, rather than just make the top 10 schools public. The evaluation also gave the title of “excellent” to a considerable number of universities, while only two schools were found “unsatisfactory” with the criteria of three majors combined. There should be a more strict evaluation. If the council has a limitation, because it operates on membership fees from universities, it could commission the evaluation to an independent organization.

The announcement of university rankings is unavoidable for a climate in which ability is valued. Education authorities should embark on a drastic program of financial assistance to high-ranking universities to bring about enhanced educational competitiveness.