First Things First

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First Things First

Seoul National University has announced the points of its admission policies for the 2002 academic year, which include diversification of screening methods, broader admission categories reduction of admission quotas. The total of freshman admitted will be 3,900, 1,010 fewer than the figure of 4,910 for and 629 fewer than last year’s quota. Instead accepting applicants by department or college, the current method, whereby applicants entry in one of 80 categories, admission categories will be reduced to 16, arranged in 7 major However, the deans of 16 colleges, including the College of Humanities and the of Natural Sciences, have adopted a resolution objecting to the changes, saying that the admission categories and reduced quotas decided on without working out a corresponding curriculum plan for each academic area.

believe that Seoul National University the other colleges around the country have conduct sweeping reforms of their educational and curricula in order to turn out the quality graduates we will need in the 21st century. that viewpoint, SNU’s diversification of screening methods and broadening of admission categories deserve approval. For one thing, such would break down some of the barriers departments, giving students a wider of majors.

Despite the positive aspects of these changes, strange that the university should just out and announce such a new admission without carrying out any major reforms in operations. University officials explain changes as just one step in the path toward becoming a university centered on graduatelevel education. However, with quotas so greatly the competition among applicants will be all the fiercer and parents will be confused to exactly what is expected of an applicant.

preparation for such a big step, in seems that the very least some sort of agreement should have been reached in the university itself on just exactly what needs to be done to redirect the school’s emphasis to graduatelevel studies. Furthermore, if one looks at the inner motivation for the proposed changes, it can be seen that, just as deans pointed out, there is a connection with government’s “Brain Korea 21” program. BK21 project is a program to provide financial assistance to selected colleges and universities the tune of 200 billion won ($156 million) annually for seven years. SNU’s sudden change admission policies would seem to be a quick to meet government demands to reform to qualify for funds. But does such a change constitute real reform? University reform has to be based on the combined wisdom of everyone who is of the school.

Only then can durable reform result. SNU, however, did not bother to survey the opinions of its faculty members, and deans’ opposition to the plan is the result. If reform is really the right way to go, then various colleges and departments in the school need to participate by contributing their own realistic plans for improvement, and they must not based on greed. Instead of just dangling carrots the hope of hastening reform, the Ministry Education, as well as school authorities, must work for intramural consensus that leads to decisions. SNU’s reform plans will have tremendous influence on other national and private universities and even on high school education. They must, therefore, be made with suitable longterm goals in mind. Only after such basic reform plans have been made should new admission guidelines be issued.

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