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Graduate School of International Studies Failing

Posted February. 26, 2007 07:23,   


Under the motto of “globalization” of the Kim Young-sam administration, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development approved the establishment of nine graduate schools of international studies, including schools at Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University, in 1996. However, these graduate schools are not serving their purpose very well.

The nine graduate schools have recently released a joint evaluation report on the occasion of 10th anniversary of their establishment. According to the report, only 63 graduates or two percent of those who graduated from the nine schools have made it into international organizations, including the UNDP and ADB. Also, only 459 or 14.5 percent of the graduates have joined foreign companies, which are bigger employers than international organizations.

Founded without concrete programs to foster international experts to lead the global era, the graduate schools of international affairs have wasted 76 billion won of governmental spending while failing to realize their goals. They have changed into a school that attracts foreign students.

Failure to nurture international experts-

The report that the Dong-a Ilbo obtained said that the graduates mostly joined Korean companies that they could have entered with an undergraduate education. About 34.2 percent of graduates entered Korean companies.

With the exception of Ewha Womans University, the majority of the graduates from the other eight schools have gone on to Korean companies. In particular, 78.4 percent of the graduates from Chung-Ang University and 57.4 percent of those from Hanyang University joined Korean companies.

In many cases, those who entered Korean businesses failed to utilize what they studied at their graduate schools.

Lee In-pyo, professor at the Graduate School of International Studies of Ewha Womans University, said, “After joining a Korean company, the graduates are often placed in a department handling general affairs, rather than international affairs,” adding, “Not a few graduates have quit or have had trouble because they cannot use the knowledge they learned from graduate school.”

Graduates have also found jobs in foreign companies (14.5 percent), and the public sector (13.8 percent), including public officials, public corporations and government agencies, while 10.2 percent of them went on to pursue advanced degrees. The report failed to survey about 25.4 percent of the graduates about their career path after graduation.

Korea University has sent the most graduates (18 persons) to international bodies, followed by Ewha Womans University (14) and Yonsei University (11).

Although it received the fourth largest sum of assistance of 9.9 billion won for five years, Seoul National University has sent only three of its graduates to international organizations, ranking sixth among the nine schools.

Ewha Womans University has sent the most graduates to foreign companies (142 persons), followed by Yonsei University (106) and the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (59).

Lacking Strategies and Capabilities from the Beginning-

Experts say such schools have failed to serve their claimed purpose of producing international experts because each of the schools lacked its own strategy for specialization.

Park In-hui, professor at the Graduate School for International Studies of Ewha Womans University, said, “Neither the Ministry of Education and Human Resources nor universities successfully developed concrete strategies as to how to nurture experts in which area.”

Indeed, the majors established in the nine schools are all alike, such as international commerce, international finance, international relations and regional studies (mainly Chinese studies and American studies).

Another reason for failure is the lack of a “tailored program” to support those who aim to join international organizations.

Park Tae-ho, head of the Graduate School of International Studies of Seoul National University, said, “We have failed to develop a tailored program to send graduates to international organizations which accept applicants with a master’s degree, such as the ADB, UNDP and ESCAP.”

Furthermore, the schools did not invite international experts, including those who have worked for international bodies or foreign companies, as professors, just utilizing the graduate schools to increase the number of posts for general professors.

Also, those schools have not invited personnel managers at major international bodies to introduce their students to the managers and have a recruiting session.

Although all of the lectures are delivered in English, many criticize that the depth of the lectures are not very different from undergraduate lectures related to politics and business administration.

Kang, a graduate from Graduate School of International Studies of Yonsei University, said, “Most of the lectures were an English version of undergraduate lectures,” adding, “I felt that the school was not enough to nurture talent for international organizations or foreign companies which demand expert knowledge.”

Lee, a graduate from Graduate School of International Studies of Sogang University, said, “Some Korean professors’ English were so poor that I felt that it would be better for the school to offer lectures in Korean.”

However, there are positive effects as well.

Such schools have recently changed their original goal of fostering Korean experts of international affairs, and kept their doors wide open to students from developing countries, including China, Vietnam and India.

The graduate school at Seoul National University had 12 foreign students in 2003, but the figure increased five times to 61 in 2006.

Chung-Ang University had only three foreign students in 2000, which has now increased to more than 20. About 70 percent of those in the graduate school of Kyung Hee University and 30 percent of those at the graduate school of Sogang University are from outside Korea.

Professors of such graduate schools stress that the function of their schools is changing into fostering pro-Koreans or those who know Korea in developing countries.

Jang Dae-ryun, head of the Graduate School of International Studies of Yonsei University, said, “With tuitions cheaper than the U.S. and Europe and opportunities to learn Korea’s economic development through English lectures, many students in developing countries are attracted by a graduate school of international studies.”

A 23-year-old Indian student attending the Graduate School of International Studies of Korea University said, “I came to Korea to know who the country quickly overcame the financial crisis in the 1990s,” adding, “I like it particularly because lectures are in English and there are various scholarships.”