[Meet the President] Chung-Ang University zeroes in on cultural diversity
But what Park Sang-gue noticed throughout three decades of teaching at Chung-Ang University is that the complaints come in patterns.
“Asian students are more sensitive about the services they receive from the school outside classrooms,” said Park. “They want to feel like they’re cared for.”
European students, on the other hand, express “very detailed” opinions about classes and the professors who teach them, Park continued, and aren’t afraid of letting the school know when they aren’t satisfied.
As president of the university, Park’s principle is to never tell international students they’re wrong, that nothing can be changed. Things can always change, he said. All that’s needed is an open mind.
“Cultural diversity is key,” Park told the Korea JoongAng Daily last month during an interview in his office in Dongjak District, southern Seoul.
“International students aren’t wrong,” he said. “They’re just different from us.”
The following are excerpts from the interview, edited for clarity.
This is my eighth interview in the “Meet the President” series. I’m starting to notice that each university's president has a different definition of globalization. What’s yours?
I think globalization has become a goal shared by many Korean universities. Each university sets a really grandiose mission vowing to foster global talent, but from a practical viewpoint, it’s basically a set of efforts to help our students boost their competence so that they can take on globalization-related work once they graduate. Considering how globalized our society has become, most of our graduates end up working at some place, doing something related to globalization.
Why Chung-Ang? Out of all Korean universities, why should an international student considering a degree in Korea choose your school?
What really sets us apart from other Korean universities is that we provide one of the widest range of academic programs, everything from cutting-edge technology to the most specific fields of arts. Frankly speaking, operating these many programs doesn’t help us much on college rankings because nearly 30 percent of our school funding goes toward areas that aren’t directly factored into the major rankings. From a student’s perspective, however, I think it’s a major benefit to meet and mingle with fellow peers studying different fields, especially given that we’re living in the fourth industrial revolutionary era where uncertainty is rising and students can end up doing anything upon graduation. Some Korean universities are really strong in certain fields like engineering or mechanics, so when international students apply to those schools, they have very specific goals to gain knowledge in those particular areas. But for those who aren’t sure about their career paths, they can come to our school and have the opportunity to carve out their futures because we provide such a wide array of options.
Other than having a lot of majors, what are some other strengths of Chung-Ang University?
We have over 2,500 international students enrolled at our school to earn a bachelor's degree, which is the fourth largest figure out of all higher education institutes in Korea. Through more than 500 agreements with foreign universities and research institutes, we exchange students and teaching staff, hold joint research projects and host international academic conferences. Through these agreements, our students are given the opportunity to study at nearly 200 universities overseas every semester. More recently, we opened the Chung-Ang University Gwangmyeong Hospital [in Gwangmyeong, Gyeonggi], which we expect will help us strengthen our competitiveness in the biomedical field and prepare for the fourth industrial revolutionary era.
What are some benefits offered to international students?
We have special scholarships for international students who maintain a high GPA. Those who score 4.3 or above [out of a perfect score of 4.5] in the previous semester receive a full scholarship exempting them from paying any tuition the following semester. A 50 percent discount is offered to those who score 4.0 or above, a 30 percent discount to those who score 3.7 or above and a 20 percent discount to students who score 3.2 or above. Korean editing and proofreading services are also offered through our CAU Korean Language Editing Service, known as CAKE. The program, which was launched two years ago, is very popular among our international students. Chung-Ang University received the highest rank in the Ministry of Education’s International Education Quality Assurance System, known as IEQAS, which means we were recognized by the Korean government for being a globalized campus. Through this acknowledgment, international students at our school don’t have to do as much paperwork when they wish to change their visa status or can work longer hours in part-time jobs compared to international students from schools without this designation.
What’s Chung-Ang University’s educational philosophy?
As the world steps into the fourth industrial revolutionary era, cutting-edge technology will spread throughout all corners of our society to compete against humans and we’ll be seeing many transformations in the post-Covid-19 era. Eventually, the world we’ll be living in will be completely different from the present. So at Chung-Ang, we strive to foster students who can flexibly react to these changes and proactively seek self-improvement. To this end, we’re in the process of developing a Metaverse educational system and upgrading our CAU e-Advisor platform, which offers practical advice on students’ careers.
What’s CAU e-Advisor?
When I look back at my college years, I remember contemplating my career and what I wanted to do after graduation. Each semester, I didn’t know what courses to take or what extracurricular program to join. And that’s where the CAU e-Advisor comes in. The university invested a whopping 4 billion won [$3 million] to build an artificial intelligence [AI] system that offers tips to student users on what courses to take and what extracurricular programs and volunteer work to join based on their career goals. Their reference point is actual Chung-Ang University graduates who have achieved those same career goals, such as working at a bank. The cool thing about this program is that it self-learns. The more information we insert, the more accurate the advice becomes. One looming task is to get permission from more Chung-Ang University graduates to use their data from college so that we can add their information to CAU e-Advisor. Inside the CAU e-Advisor, there’s also a chatbot service that offers information on a wide range of matters, such as where certain buildings are or the best restaurants nearby. Everything’s provided in Korean, English and even Chinese.
Park Sang-gue is the 16th president of Chung-Ang University, whose four-year term began in March 2020. He’s been an applied statistics professor at the school since 1995.
Park is the senior vice president of the Korea Association of Private University Presidents and the vice chairman of the Korea University Sport Foundation. He’s also a member of the Advisory Committee of the Korea Society for Engineering Education; a member of the Ministry of Education’s Structural Reform Committee; and a consultant in the Medication Review Advisory Group of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.
Park earned his bachelor’s degree in applied statistics and master’s in statistics at Chung-Ang University and a Ph.D. in statistics from The State University of New York at Buffalo.
About the university
Oct. 17, 1916
Live in Truth, Live for Justice
Seoul Campus: Dongjak District, southern Seoul
Anseong Campus: Anseong, Gyeonggi
913,189 square meters (225.65 acres)
Undergraduate colleges and departments
Schools and departments: 53
Academic staff (2022)
Administrative staff (2022)
Employment rate (2020)
70.1 percent (Seoul Campus 72.4 percent)
Number of students (2022)
Short-term students (language learning, exchange program): 665
By country (2022)
China 79.2 percent
Vietnam 4.8 percent
Taiwan 1.8 percent
Other 14.2 percent (83 countries)
Department with the most international students (2022)
School of Business Administration
Dormitory acceptance rate (2022)
Average tuition of self-funded undergraduate students per semester (2022)
4.65 million won ($3,555)
BY LEE SUNG-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]