[EDITORIALS]Clean up the universitiesPerhaps there is no better barometer that illustrates the reality of Korean universities than the finding that ten state universities in the nation, including Seoul National University, committed 40 illegal and improper acts in recruiting new faculty this year. That makes a striking contrast to state universities in other nations that are scurrying to heighten their international competitiveness and produce talented graduates. We don’t have to look far away on the map ― to the United States or Europe ― to cite examples. In neighboring China, Beijing University is adopting meritocracy in recruitment and promotion of faculty that include a measure to bar graduates of the school from applying. In Japan, state universities are attempting autonomous management by changing into a corporate body, as well as strengthening cooperation with industry and its research and development.
What of Korean universities? Most professors are engrossed in competition to win the school presidency or school management posts. In the faculty recruitment process, thesis advisers sit on the review board. And review board members push for alumni, acknowledge papers done for corporations and other unpublished research as legitimate favorable points. The lengths that they go to are deplorable. The findings this time were limited to state universities, but it is a well-known secret that money is given and taken in recruitment of faculty at private universities. In a survey of 1,000 persons who applied for jobs at state and private universities last year, 80 percent said that they thought the review was unfair.
It is difficult to expect that professors recruited that way can produce talented graduates useful for schools and for the nation. The government should act boldly to end the vicious cycle. It can take strong measures such as barring thesis advisers from sitting on review boards, referring those implicated in misdeeds to the authorities and making their names public. We need a revolutionary change to eradicate a gang-like culture in the ivory towers, including insistence on “blue blood” or recruiting only alumnae for faculty.