Go to contents

[Op-Ed] Harvard and Seoul Nat’l Univ.

Posted August. 27, 2009 08:30,   


A committee on appraisal of higher education in Taiwan recently assessed research by 725 universities worldwide. Harvard University was ranked at the top of the list, followed by Johns Hopkins. Among Korean universities, Seoul National was ranked 85th. The power of Harvard was outstanding not just in its top ranking but also in substance. The university scored 96.14 out of the maximum 100 points in the combined evaluation of eight categories, including the number of theses quoted in international academic journals and the number of theses published. By comparison, Johns Hopkins was a distant second with 52.67 points.

Harvard also shared the top position in U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of America’s Best Colleges this year. The previous year, Harvard topped the world university rankings compiled by the British daily The Times. The school had a development fund of 36.9 billion dollars as of July last year. Despite its sizable investment losses last year due to the global financial crisis, the amount is the largest among American universities. Harvard’s excellence lies in its research capabilities, high reputation of its alumni, and its strong financial resources.

At a meeting with Seoul National University President Lee Jang-moo, Harvard President Drew G. Faust expressed hope that the two schools can develop a close relationship as partners. The meeting was the first between the Harvard chief and a head of a Korean university.

Faust is said to have shown interest in an international campus that Seoul National seeks to build in Siheung, Gyeonggi Province. All classes on the campus will be in English. How Harvard will cooperate with Seoul National in the project is drawing attention.

The Times ranked Seoul National 50th on the list of top world universities. The Korean university’s development funds amounts to less than 1/100th of Harvard’s. Questions are rising over the performance of Korea’s top university considering its monopoly on the country’s most talented students. If the university is to become a leading global institution of higher education, it must reform its bureaucratic nature. The Siheung campus project must introduce a bill on making Seoul National a legal entity in the fall session of the National Assembly. The government’s determination and support for the project is also needed.

Editorial Writer Hong Chan-sik (chansik@donga.com)