Postech to pay 50B won to hire Nobel winners

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Postech to pay 50B won to hire Nobel winners

Pohang University of Science and Technology, better known to the public as Postech, will invest a total of 50 billion won ($43 million) for three years starting in March to scout 10 Nobel Prize and Fields Medal laureates to lecture at the school.

Postech aims to become one of the world’s top 20 universities by 2020, the school, already one of the nation’s top science and technology universities, said yesterday.

Postech, based in Pohang, North Gyeongsang, plans to hire 10 prize-winning academics as full-time professors. Each will be paid 5 billion won, including 4 billion won in relocation fees, to teach at the school for three years.

“The plan is to make Postech a world-class university in addition to its measures to adopt Harvard University’s tenure system and use English as the official language on the entire campus,” said Baik Sung-gi, Postech’s president.

“When foreign scholars give lectures at Korean universities, the university’s international profile is raised. Korean universities have high research capabilities but due to their low international profile, their achievements don’t receive the recognition they deserve. Hiring foreign professors will address that problem.”

Under the plan, 45 percent of the university’s professors will be foreign nationals by next year. To reach its goal, the university this year began to hire equal numbers of Korean and foreign academics.

However, many foreign academics hired by Korean universities have had a hard time adapting themselves to their new environment, and are prone to stay only short periods as very few universities run centers catering to foreign professors’ basic living needs, such as opening bank accounts and acquiring cell phones.

Though metropolitan areas have international schools, the lack of internationals schools near Pohang also made foreign academics reluctant to bring their children with them.

To address these issues, Postech officials said an international school that teaches elementary, middle and high school courses will be opened in 2012 to ensure high-quality education for children of foreign academics. In addition, all documents, materials and signs at the university will be written in both Korean and English.

Postech officials explained the university’s plan is different from the Education Ministry’s World Class University project, which aims to nurture future Korean Nobel Prize winners by attracting prominent foreign academics to teach in Korean universities. According to the Education Ministry’s in-house analysis of the WCU, of 288 foreign academics invited last year, their average stay in Korea was four months. WCU does not pay residential expenses for foreign professors.

“[Postech] decided to invest 4 billion won in relocation fees for distinguished foreign scholars for three years, as most of the foreign professors who come to teach here normally bring a research group of three to 10 people, and there are also research materials to be bought. Four billion won could even be too little,” said Lee Jae-seong, a senior official of Postech.


By Kim Mi-ju, Lee Won-jean [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]
Related Korean Article

한국 온 해외석학들, 정착비 안 주니 4개월도 못 버텨



POSTECH(포스텍)이 노벨상과 필즈상을 탄 해외 석학 한 명당 3년간 무려 40억원씩의 정착비용을 지원키로 한 것은 국내에서 진행돼온 석학유치사업의 걸림돌을 제거하기 위해서다. 국내 대학들이 해외 유명 학자들을 대규모로 초빙하기 시작한 것은 2009년부터였다. 이 사업을 주도한 사람은 이주호 교육과학기술부 차관이다. 그는 청와대 교육과학문화수석 시절이던 2008년 “한국이 노벨상 수상자를 내려면 해외 석학을 대거 초빙해 국제 사회에서 우리 대학들의 인지도를 높여야 한다”는 생각을 했다고 한다. 그러고는 차관이 된 2009년 ‘세계 수준 연구중심대학(WCU: World Class University)’ 프로젝트를 시작했다. 5년간 8310억원을 투입, 노벨상을 탔거나 그에 해당될 정도의 석학 338명을 유치하겠다는 야심 찬 계획이었다.

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