Faculty must help bear burden

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Faculty must help bear burden

In our society, some joke that even gods would envy university faculty positions. Their jobs demand less pressure and fewer working hours than positions in the corporate world, yet they are rewarded with substantial salaries and benefits - on top of unmatched job security.

Their comforts and benefits are financed entirely by student tuition. Routine hikes in tuition fees, which are now among the world’s highest, partly go to financing faculty members. Under these circumstances, restructuring the faculty should be one of the top priorities of universities taking austerity measures to save on costs and bring down their snowballing tuition rates.

In fact, faculty expenses take up a sizable part of university finances.

According to financial records of 157 private universities in 2009, more than half of the 10.26 trillion won ($9.45 billion) in tuition fees they collected from students went to sustaining lecturing and nonlecturing staff.

Up to 30 percent of that amount was spent to finance nonlecturing staff. Tuition had to be raised to pay for increases in staff salaries.

As it turned out, some long-serving staff members got paid as much as professors. Those nearing the age of retirement reportedly receive more than 100 million won a year, irking students and parents, who are ultimately responsible for their salaries.

These jobs also come with luxurious benefits. Some universities pay for overseas trips for faculty members during breaks and even give out millions of won to nonlecturing staff in allowances under the pretext of research subsidies.

Moreover, work is distinctly less demanding than it is in the corporate sector. Faculty members do not work - or even work under rotation - during summer and winter breaks but still receive their full salaries.

Even professors envy the jobs of nonlecturing staff at universities.

Hiring is intensely competitive. A faculty position usually attracts more than 100 applicants with MBA degrees.

Universities must find ways to solve expensive faculty compensations in order to reform and offer better student services through lower tuition and quality education. Otherwise, the controversy over university tuitions cannot be resolved.

Faculty members should volunteer to sacrifice some of their comforts to help ease the mounting burden on students throughout the country.
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