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Hyundai-Kia chairman must repay $60 million

Professors at Pohang University of Science and Technology, or Postech, will face a tougher screening for life tenure starting this year.

A life tenure for university professors means that their positions as professors are guaranteed for life, unless he or she is fired for just cause.

The school announced yesterday that starting from the spring semester, it will reveal stricter evaluation criteria for professors to secure their positions. It is an effort to boost the quality of professors and keep up with the tenure systems of other top universities outside of Korea, the school said.

Up to now, Postech junior professors who are not promoted to life tenure could still get reappointed for seven-year terms and stay on as assistant professors. Under the new tenure system, junior professors must get evaluated for life tenure within seven years of employment. If the junior professors fail the evaluation, they must leave school within a year.

Last year at Postech, only five out of 15 professors went on to be approved to life tenures. Out of 250 professors there, 100 have not yet received life tenures.

Also, during evaluations, the school will conduct a “peer review” which consists of three to five professors from one of the top 20 universities worldwide, to conduct reviews on the life tenure candidates and their work and compare their academic achievements with other renowned world scholars.

“Instead of conducting basic evaluation for [life tenure] candidates, we decided to compared candidates’ work with top professors around the world for more detailed, objective results,” said Lee Jae-seong, vice president of Postech. “We consider ourselves the first university in Korea to apply these rather strict rules on professors’ evaluation.”

Postech will also increase professors’ evaluation periods conducted by students and alumni from once a year in March, to two times a year in March and September. Those who get top evaluations will get more funding for research as well as financial support for any international activity concerning their field of work.

Previously, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology introduced a stricter tenure evaluation for its professors by making it mandatory for professors who failed a tenure evaluation to retake evaluations within three years.

“About 20 percent of incumbent Postech professors can be called world-class, but we can become a top 20 university in the world only after all professors have become world-class,” Lee said.

By Cho Jae-eun, Lee Won-jean []

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