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Demand for Professors Increasing

Posted December. 05, 2005 07:09,   


The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MOEHRD) announced last December that it would provide enough university aid to increase the ratio of full-time professors secured by research core universities by 2.5% a year from 55% in 2005 to 65% by the year 2009.

In the case of private universities, the ministry reiterated that universities with a student-professor ratio of more than 40:1 would be excluded from all financial aid and would be subject to entrance quota reductions.

Universities believe that a better ratio of professors secured will put them at an advantage in being selected for the Brain Korea (BK) 21 Project, where 2.1 trillion won in government aid will be injected for seven years starting next year, and in attracting law schools.

“Domestic universities’ student-professor ratio stands at a whopping 46.7:1,” said Kim Gyu-tae, the head of Korea University’s college restructuring team. “The competition for universities to achieve qualitative development has just kicked off in earnest.”

“Secure the best professors”-

Korea University appointed 100 new professors this year and plans to hire 177 more next year (54 and 123 in the first and second semesters, respectively). In preparation for its possible conversion into a business school, the university’s College of Business Administration will select 27 new professors.

“In order to be a world-class university by enhancing our Science Citation Index (SCI) performances, we should secure as many talented professors as possible. We invite talented professors providing them with an employment guarantee until the retirement age and other incentives,” said Dean Kim Gyun of the Academic Affairs at Korea University.

In Yonsei University, deliberations are currently underway to appoint 190 professors. The university is specially employing professors they definitely need as the occasion calls. Kyung Hee University will publicly announce its employment plan of professors within this month and will select some 150, half of whom will be clinical professors of the East-West New Medicine Hospital that opens in March of next year.

Sungkyunkwan University selected 50 professors who will be lecturing in the second semester of this year and in the first semester of next year; it will hire an additional 90 in the first half of next year. Chung-Ang University appointed 131 professors this year and will select 39 more next year.

Konkuk University recently chose 63 professors who will start their lectures in the first semester of next year; Kwangwoon University will select a total of 35 professors, including 12 in the fields of electronics and information.

Some say that it has become extremely hard to secure talented professors, as competition intensifies among universities and the number of Korean students studying abroad sharply dropped at the time of the Asian financial crisis.

Failure in attracting law schools might hurt universities’ reputations-

In particular, major universities are inviting field experts of law and improving their facilities, believing that failing to attract law schools might deal a huge blow to their reputation. With universities spending tens of billions of won in constructing law school buildings with mock courts, Dong-A University went as far as to buy the Busan District Court office building as a whole.

Universities are making every effort to secure law professors, such as Kyung Hee University College of Law which newly hired or specially employed some 10 professors, and Konkuk University which appointed three professors and six to eight experienced law experts.

Provincial universities are in trouble-

Universities in non-metropolitan areas are taking pains not to lose their talented professors. Even written consents of transfer are asked for as some professors move to other universities right before school begins, leading to frictions between universities.

President Woo Tong-ki of Yeungnam University expressed his concerns when he said, “It is problematic that the BK 21 Project, which aims at specialization, urges all college departments to raise their ratio of faculty secured. With major universities hiring away all the talented professors, the hollowing-out of provincial universities will be further aggravating.”

In-Chul Lee inchul@donga.com