[EDITORIALS]Graduate school dilemmaIn order to lure prestigious foreign graduate schools to Korea, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development has decided to favor those schools over local ones in the legal requirements of establishing and managing such schools in Korea. We welcome the measure in the sense that it would increase the competitiveness and quality of our graduate schools. But there are many problems, including that of keeping balance with local graduate schools, that should be resolved in the course of implementation.
In 1997, foreign universities and graduate schools were allowed to establish affiliate campuses in Korea. But there has been almost no foreign school that actually established affiliation, for schools have had to abide by the strict rules that were applied to local universities. As a result, the Education Ministry seems to have taken a desperate measure to set foreign schools aside when it comes to establishing schools. Without having land and buildings in Korea, foreign schools can establish branches here. They are also exempted from the responsibility of keeping assets to generate profits. This is a tremendous favor to foreign schools. That is why local graduate schools are grumbling that the measure is a reverse discrimination to them.
If we lower the standards for foreign schools, we have to expect a rush into Korea of foreign schools with low qualities. Some would question the validity of degrees given by those schools, and their entrance would disrupt the order of higher education in Korea. The students at those schools would become victims. When Japan opened its university market, 42 foreign universities entered, but now only eight universities remain. A committee should be formed with specialists from various fields to review foreign schools that want to establish affiliation in Korea. The committee must allow affiliation only to established graduate schools. The committee also should question whether insurance by schools would be enough to protect students if those schools go bankrupt.
Foreign graduate schools will be a great stimulus to local schools. But schools that cannot provide a better educational environment, including better professors, will suffer. To cope with opening the education market further, universities should put more effort into finding strategies to survive.