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1/4 of Univ. Professors Denied Tenure

Posted October. 15, 2008 08:48,   


A quarter of professors at major domestic universities have been denied tenure over the past three years.

The Dong-A Ilbo examined the screening records of seven public and 18 private universities between 2005 and the first two quarters of this year. Over the period, 690 out of 2,739 professors who applied for tenure at the schools were rejected.

○ Rising bar for tenure

In 2005, 165 of 651 applicants failed to get tenure, or 25.2 percent. The rejection rate went up this year, as 159 of 535 applicants were turned down in this year’s first and second quarters, or 29.7 percent.

Thirteen schools raised the bar for tenure from 2005.

Among public schools, Seoul National University showed the highest rejection rate of 35.8 percent, denying tenure to 163 out of 455 applicants over the three-year period. This year, it said no to 39 out of 77 applicants, or 50.6 percent.

Experts said the higher failure stems from higher screening standards.

Lee Hyeong-gyu, dean of academic affairs at Hanyang University in Seoul, said, “We have beefed up our tenure screening. The trend is to get tougher on tenure by watching overseas and prestigious domestic schools such as Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and Seoul National University.”

Korea University granted tenure to all eight applicants in 2006, but in this year’s first semester, 18 out of 49 applicants failed (36.7 percent). Likewise, Hanyang rejected six of 65 applicants in 2005 (9.2 percent), but this year, five of its 30 applicants failed (16.7 percent).

Yeungnam University failed two out of 13 tenure applicants in 2005, but rejected 13 of 18 (72.2 percent) in the first half this year. The tenure rejection rate at Pusan National University in 2005 was 18.2 percent and Handong’s was zero percent. But Pusan National’s rejection rate this year went up to 36 percent and Handong’s soared to 71.4 percent.

Among the 25 schools surveyed, four did not deny tenure over the period: Kookmin, Chonnam, Chungnam and Dong-A. All public schools except Seoul National showed a relatively low failure rate, denying tenure to 86 out of 773 applicants.

○ Limited second chance

More professors are leaving their jobs due to failure to obtain tenure, since schools impose limits on reapplication.

From the second semester this year, a Seoul National associate professor has to pass tenure screening by the fifth year. If not, he or she can renew the contract with the school only three times over six years.

Korea University requires an associate professor to apply for tenure within seven years.

A journalism professor in Seoul said on the condition of anonymity, “These days, those who are looking to teach at college are looking for schools with easier tenure screening. They are feeling high pressure.”

turtle@donga.com constant25@donga.com