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Korean Universities: Professors Wanted

Posted October. 19, 2005 06:09,   


Three business administration professors at a local national university transferred to private universities in the Seoul metropolitan area this year.

“We have 1,200 students and only 17 professors,” a university official said worriedly. “We are planning to employ more professors next semester, but we are not sure if that will happen.”

In contrast, one business administration school in a private university in Seoul picked 17 new professors over the last year alone.

Distinguished universities have recently begun to compete to employ more professors. Many are doing so to increase the student-professor ratios of their schools to 75 percent, which is one of the criteria for certification by the Association of Advanced Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

The business school at Seoul National University and the graduate school at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) were certified in 2003, and Korea University’s undergraduate and graduate schools of business both were certified the following year.

Motivated by this, Yonsei, Hanyang, Sungkyunkwan and Sogang universities are trying to secure more professors in order to receive certification as well.

Well-known universities in the Seoul metropolitan area are bringing in professors from private universities. Private universities in the metropolitan area are bringing in professors from local national universities, and local national universities are bringing in professors from smaller, local private universities.

The business school at Korea University hired 11 professors last year and this year, and is planning to bring in 18 more by the first semester of next year.

Yonsei University hired 11 more professors during the same period and has increased its professor ratio to 71.7 percent. Seoul University added 11 professors to its faculty as well. Most of the newly employed professors are from private universities in the metropolitan area or local national universities. Private universities that have lost professors to distinguished universities are making up the vacant positions by employing professors from local universities.

Local universities are protesting that they are being deprived of their best professors. There are only 11 professors for 430 students at one local university, 17 professors for 1,200 students at another university, and nine professors for 400 students at yet another local university.

Kim (female, 21), a business student at a local national university, said, “Classes are being taught by part-time instructors since there are only a few professors. There are many business classes where over 50 students are listed, which makes it hard to concentrate during class.”

This phenomenon shows how a business school benefits a university’s finances and the country’s difficulties in diversifying the employment methods of professors. These two realities are overlapping each other and picking up speed.

“It is widely acknowledged that since business schools gather the most contributions and have a high employment rate, it is necessary to enlarge those schools to enhance a university’s stature,” an official of a well-known business school in the metropolitan area said.

For most universities in the country, it is difficult to give an annual salary to a professor based on their major as is done at foreign universities. This is why it is hard to employ foreign professors, and why recruitment efforts have largely focused on domestic professors.

“Those with doctoral degrees from U.S. universities are refusing to come back to Korea, leaving us with little choice but to employ professors from local universities,” one university official in Seoul said. “Prestigious foreign universities started to cut the number of Korean students they admitted starting the 1990s, and domestic universities have been negligent in supporting students interested in doctoral study. This has resulted in a shortage of professors, which is aggravating horizontal faculty transfers between universities.”