[KS] Re: On the Korean university system
tgpark at sias.snu.ac.kr
Mon Oct 23 00:56:00 EDT 2000
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Dear Dr. Seliger,
Your examination on Korean University system is very useful to estimate the
I would like to add something.
First of all, it is important to catch the system, which the department of
education controll universities in Korea. Generally universities in Korea,
regardless of national and private, depends on the Korean government from the
viewpoint of finance. That might be the basic fact in order to understand
university system in Korea. Although whole money for managing universities is
not allocated from the government, almost of all systems in Korea seriously
depend on decisions of the government.
At second, although a lot of private universities are not independent, many
decisions are carried out by the foundations. Therefore, the characteristics
of the foundations defines that of universities. It is important to consider
the feature of members of the foundation. On the one hand academic feature in
each university depends on academic clans, on the other hand it depends on the
feature of each foundation.
Finally, thesedays some changes appear in the university system in Korea. I
don't know it is positive or not. In order to examine the Korean university
system, the changes should be reflected.
Dr. Tae-Gyun Park
The School of International and Area Studies
Seoul National University
----- Original Message -----
From: Bernhard Seliger <seliger at maincc.hufs.ac.kr>
To: <korean-studies at iic.edu>
Sent: Saturday, October 21, 2000 4:42 PM
Subject: On the Korean university system
> REPLY sends your message to the whole list
> Dear list members,
> Currently I write a paper for an upcoming conference in Seoul with a
> comparison of the German and Korean university system and I would like to
> discuss my ideas with list members. The problem for me is that there seems
> to be few hard data on some of the problems I see. I would be glad to
> receive any additional information. My hypothesis is that in both systems
> there is an important degree of 'ossification/ sclerotization' and
> accordingly, there are growing dysfunctionalities.
> On the Korean university system
> On one hand the Korean university stands in the strong tradition of a
> society, where an examination system (originally) based on merit was
> central to the state. The examination system since 1969 for Korean
> universities shadows the former system.
> Also, Korea differently from many other countries has a population with a
> higher-than-average willigness to pay privately for education. This might
> partly be linked to the status of teachers/ professors/ educated people
> generally, i.e. again culturally. Like in other countries the
> expansion of education to the whole society was mainly due to the state
> provision of schooling. But in the university sector and the private
> learning institutes spending was simultaneously increasing and the
> demand was relatively stable in times of a reduction of income, like in the
> Asian crisis (maybe even increasing, concerning the English language - is
> there any data on this?).
> Also, the share of private institutions in higher education is considerable
> and there are tuition fees, so competition of universities (trying to
> attract students by offering a diversified programme, including high
> quality teaching and research) should work well in this framework.
> However, looking at the universities an ossification of the system seems to
> have happened.
> The ranking of universities is not the outcome of any measurable
> competition process. Generally, it is desirable, if universities can build
> up a reputation independently from individual scholars teaching
> there (like in the Germanic countries). This enhances long-term investment
> in this reputation (while in the system based on the individual scholar the
> time-horizon is one life span at most).
> However, in the Korean system there seems to be (unlike e.g. the
> competitive American system, where also the reputation and the ranking of
> universities is important) an invariable ranking of universities
> based on historical (and maybe political?) facts and achievements but not
> longer on changes in them (while the ranking of universities is clearly no
> easy task, recently rankings like that of American business
> schools by Business week or the German Spiegel ranking at least try to
> include a variety of factors allowing for often drastic changes, like in
> the case of Columbia Business School in New York).
> A second problems seems to be the evasion of screening of students through
> the generous allocation of high grades and the automatic promotion system,
> where students rarely fail. However, this is only a
> guess, since I have only anecdotical evidence on it.
> The third problem I see in the role of 'academic clans', notably based on
> old school and regional ties. However, there seems to be also a coalition
> of those professors all coming into office in the time of
> rapid expansion of the universities, preventing change and resisting
> performance measurement. Also, at least in my profession (economics) there
> seems to be a stronger-than-average mainstream orientation, even more than
> in America and Europe, where concentration is already provoking protests
> and reducing competition of ideas. So, my hypothesis is that academic clans
> also restrict in Korea (but not only there) the competition of ideas.
> Another problem is bureaucratization (concerning the whole university
> system, regardless of private or public), however, with no reliance on the
> rule of law (eg of university statutes, graduation rules etc.often are
> changed ad hoc).
> A politization of decisions about research and teaching state funding, e.g.
> the introduction of new programmes (Area studies under KYS and BK 21 under
> KDJ). While the government surely has the right to set priorities, the
> short term horizon seems to lead to inefficiency of investment and the
> priorities seem mainly to be 'political consumption goods'.
> Yours sincerely,
> Dr. Bernhard Seliger
> Graduate School of International Area Studies
> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> 270, Imun-Dong
> 130 791 Seoul
> Republic of Korea
> Tel. 00 82 2 964 8517
> Fax. 00 82 2 965 4792
> e-mail: Seliger at maincc.hufs.ac.kr
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