Bolder changes from campusLocal universities have neglected upgrading the quality of their lectures and research as they have been entirely obsessed with expanding. The result is the stupefying fact that Korean youth are at the bottom in terms of competitiveness despite Korea having the world’s highest ratio of adults with higher education — 69 percent. But there’s hope. According to a poll by the JoongAng Ilbo, universities are fast shifting their paradigm with more focus on lectures and research. They are out to produce movers, not followers.
Klaus Schwab, executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, during his visit to Seoul emphasized the flexible education system at a time when jobs are volatile and in a transitional period. Stanford University has been teaming up with the industry to groom startups.
The recent experiments by domestic universities are encouraging. Hanyang University runs a practical curriculum program for enterprise incubation so that students can both learn and earn. It produced 490 startup entrepreneurs. Lecturers have become students’ life and career mentors. Korea University has formed a team of mentors and Yonsei University uses big data to consult students on their career choices.
The research environment has also changed. Universities and professors have turned to long-term projects instead of annual turnouts. Poor quality in research work has so far weighed down Korean university competitiveness. Universities should invest more on promising young scholars and researchers. According to the JoongAng Ilbo’s probe of papers published by professors under the age of 40, Lee Kyu-tae, professor of Seoul National University chemical and biological engineering department, was most cited. He is said to be researching ways to make electricity out of salt. Such creative minds should be encouraged and promoted. We expect bold and radical changes from the academic community.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 19, Page 30