[EDITORIALS]University on right trackWe support Seoul National University’s plan to introduce a college system. As is pointed out by Chung Un-chan, president of the university, the current system centered on departments is not suited to the needs of globalization and internationalization. The current faculty system has failed. Faculty members oppose changes out of fear for their jobs, and students flock to popular departments for better job opportunities.
The departments have reacted negatively to universities’ efforts to create faculties in such small groups as history, economics, biology and electronic engineering. Because attempts to reduce colleges into smaller groups failed, it was not possible to form discrete faculties, such as humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.
University college refers to the college structure in the United States and Europe, where they teach basic sciences, including the humanities, social and natural sciences, in their undergraduate classes. What Seoul National University is planning to introduce, however, is a college where they teach a wider range of sciences in the first two years and allow students to choose departments in their third year so that they can graduate as students with stronger academic fundamentals. If Seoul National intends to introduce the university college system, it would be better to build faculties in the social, natural and engineering sciences, and a separate integrated faculty for students who want to major in more than one area of science and those who do not want to join any one faculty.
In a culture where professors and students in a field form an exclusive group, the university college system will not succeed. Universities must first become graduate- school centered. They should also become research oriented. In the past, there were similar plans, but departmental egoism barred implementation. Seoul National University must establish a basic plan and get the consent of its faculty. Then, applicants must be given time to prepare for the changes. Ample discussions and time to form a consensus are better than being bound by the self-imposed deadline of 2005.