Make it worthwhile

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Make it worthwhile

Universities are stepping up globalization efforts to gain a competitive edge, by hiring more foreign professors and expanding overseas student exchanges.

The government is providing support for these efforts. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has been preparing the launch of the World Class University project, for which applications closed Saturday.

The government is expected to invest 825 billion won ($724.35 million) over the next five years in a bid to help Korean universities attract excellent scholars and researchers from around the world to establish new academic programs and conduct joint research.

The applications submitted by universities are encouraging. Seoul National University has proposed inviting foreign professors to set up new academic departments, such as media art engineering, designed to facilitate the convergence of music, painting, and engineering; and energy environment chemistry convergence technologies, which will look at alternative energies and green growth.

This may be the best course of action for universities, insofar as it creates new growth engines through academic convergences.

Ewha Womans University plans to invite noted scholars, such as Nobel Prize winners, as part-time professors. This could contribute to reinvigorating research from a global approach on Korea’s specific situation.

The key is to guarantee the effectiveness of inviting distinguished foreign scholars. It should serve to raise the quality of Korean professors by facilitating joint research, and contribute to further promoting the development of converging academic areas.

If the scheme fails, however, distinguished scholars should not be employed for form’s sake. They would essentially be staying for several weeks in Korea for no useful purpose, and be paid for it.

Our tax money should not be spent foolishly on helping universities make a show of power.

To this end, the Education Ministry should establish stricter selective review procedures on which universities to run the project. Worthless proposals should be weeded out ruthlessly.

In addition, the chosen universities should undergo thorough examination to review their performance via mid-term course evaluations.

The scheme to globalize universities should focus on raising their competitiveness. Universities should be prepared not to flounder in the water after pouring money into the projects.

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