Autonomy dreamsSohn Byung-doo, president of Sogang University, became the 14th president of the Korea Council for University Education.
The Kcue, a group of local university presidents, replaces its president every two years, but the inauguration of Sohn is different.
Why? Because the new administration of President Lee Myung-bak has strengthened and expanded the organization’s status after the new administration decided to let every university set up its own admission procedures.
Sohn is now in a greater position of power than his predecessors. In fact, it is now regarded as the second Education Ministry, indicating the enormous expectations bestowed upon it.
So far, several universities have pleaded that they be allowed to establish their own admission procedures.
But some of them are well adjusted to the system and took advantage of the government requirements as protection measures for themselves.
It is hard to expect local colleges to become competitive if the government controls every aspect of universities’ admission process.
That is why it is very encouraging to see the new administration step in to ease regulations.
Now local colleges should change. Schools can achieve full autonomy when each is fully held accountable for its actions.
It is right for Sohn to say that he will help create a climate in which schools take full responsibility.
One of the important tests for colleges under the new system will be the admission system. Students and parents are worried about how an autonomous college admission system will work.
It is solely the Kcue’s responsibility to help the new system settle and then earn the public’s trust.
More than anything else, it will play a crucial role establishing a decent college admission system that is based on school education rather than on prevailing trends in the private education market.
To do so, it has to coordinate the interests of all stakeholders.
In the end, universities should be reborn as true educational institutions through increased investment and enhanced research and education capability.
Local colleges face a wave of globalization and they have to reinvent themselves to survive.
The new administration opened a new door so colleges can decisively transform themselves in line with current changes.