[VIEWPOINT]Korea needs to get on the top 100 list

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[VIEWPOINT]Korea needs to get on the top 100 list

The American weekly newsmagazine Newsweek released its list of the top 100 global universities last week. Not a single Korean school was included among them, a shock to the public here.
Among Asian countries, Japan topped the list with five schools, followed by two each in Singapore and Hong Kong.
After the list was made public, several proposals were made to improve the situation, but none seemed to get to the bottom of the problem.
That is why I would like to review the rating criteria and propose measures to help Korean universities enter the list in the future.
In creating the list, Newsweek placed a 40 percent weighting on Shanghai Jiaotong University’s “Academic Ranking of World Universities,” a 50-percent weighting on the Times of London’s “Higher Education Survey” and the remaining 10-percent on library holdings per school.
The ranking by Jiaotong University is based on the number of renowned researchers, papers published in the journals Nature and Science and articles listed in internationally acknowledged social science and humanities journals.
As a result, a school’s performance depends on the number of star professors the university includes in its faculty.
But taking a look at domestic universities, only a select number of private schools offer special treatment to the so-called “superstar professors.”
Without bringing a change to the current situation, the odds of a Korean university entering the top 100 list look slim.
As a result, it would be a good idea for the government to discover and bring up star professors while providing wholehearted support, in the form of research funds and incentives, under the slogan of “selection and concentration.”
These types of support will help professors come up with internationally recognized research results and might even move up the day that a Korean researcher is awarded a Nobel prize.
The ratings released by the Times place a high emphasis on the percentage of international students and faculty, citations per faculty member and student-to-faculty ratio. In other words, the key factor is the school’s level of internationalization, an area that must be improved in Korea.
Even today, many professors continue the evil practice of signing on their apprentice to succeed to their positions. At this point, we must reconsider if colleges and the government have systematically prepared measures that would allow foreign scholars to receive tenure.
The key words for bringing a domestic university to the top 100 can be summed up as “developing star professors” and “internationalization.”
Among the schools included in this year’s list, there are many small but strong universities with only about 900 undergraduates and 1,200 graduate students. This sends a message to Korean universities: they should focus on enhancing the substance of research and education, rather than adding students and expanding their finances.
In order to enhance the internationalization of our schools, more research and classes must be conducted in English.
The introduction of a competition system to filter out uncompetitive professors according to international standards is inevitable.
The government must also continuously sort out and evaluate colleges with potential, according to standards previously mentioned, and strengthen support for star professors.
It must also prepare an education system that fits international standards and correctly apply it so that our universities become attractive to foreign scholars and students.

* The writer is a Professor at Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology.

by Kim Kyoung-woong
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