Creating a creative classPohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) is attempting a bold educational experiment. Its president, Kim Doh-yeon, announced a sweeping reform plan to breed creative, agile, and versatile talents ready for the age of the fourth industrial revolution.
The science school, which turns 30 this year, will undergo broad overhauls from recruitment of new students and teachers to curriculum so that the university does not merely function as a space for education and research, but also serve to turn out valuable and ready-made assets to the society through cooperation with industry.
Kim said he would fix the student recruitment system first. Starting next year, all 320 first-year incoming students would be selected without consideration of their high school studies in humanities or science. The school will start with 70 openings this year before expanding to the full quota.
From their second year, students will able to freely choose their major course. The barriers in departments will be lowered to integrate studies in hardware, software, basics, and applications science.
Lecturers will be encouraged to expand beyond their specialized fields. Its idea on recruiting lecturers is even bolder.
Over the next four years, 150 out of 272 full-time faculty members will be replaced, and a third of them would be recruited based on the eligibility to meet both academics and industry needs. They would hire lecturers that companies recommend and share half of the cost.
Faculty members will be hired based on their lab and industry research and developments and contributions even without a doctorate degree. The school would be breaking the longstanding tradition of narrow-minded and exclusive networking.
The science school’s experiment cannot be easily employed in other, bigger ,universities. But Korean universities cannot hang onto their old system that hampers advancements.
Only one or two Korean names are included in global university rankings. Higher education around the world is shifting to openness and convergence. Kim’s small but radical experiment should be a wake-up call for other universities.
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 2, Page 34