Why South Korean Universities Have Low International Rankings

In the first portion of this essay, the grounds ‘Why South Korean Universities Have Low International Rankings ‘ ( Paul Z. Jambor in Academic Leadership: The Online Journal, 2009: Volume 7 ; first issue ) are clearly laid out from legion points of positions refering to two outstanding international rankings ; the Times and the Shanghai rankings ( QS, World & A ; Shanghai, 2008 ) .

Herein, different facets affecting the complex relationships between pupils and professors every bit good as between pupils, decision makers and the establishments are shown to account for the comparative low rankings of South Korean universities on an international graduated table. That is to state, South Korean universities may really good fall low on international rankings due to the relatively big flexibleness pupils are afforded during the class of their university surveies.

The ground I decided to compose this paper is largely because a figure of my co-workers have gone to lengths in converting me to compose about the pupil side of the overall image in add-on to the grounds laid out in the first portion of this essay. Therefore, I am taking this chance to sketch for you a comprehensive organic structure of concluding and grounds in an effort to demo that the hassle-free atmosphere Korean university pupils find themselves in may good be a important clincher for the below mean criterions at South Korean universities. In consequence, this is shown by the low international rankings of Korean universities in both the Times and the Shanghai rankings ( QS, World & A ; Shanghai, 2008 ) .

As clearly demonstrated in the first portion of this essay, South Korean high school pupils perform good above norm academically in the countries of mathematics, reading and scientific discipline. In comparing, South Korean university pupils find themselves dawdling behind on the international forepart due to the lower criterions of station secondary instruction in Korea, as is exemplified by the rankings of South Korean universities. All in all, while Korean high school pupils are under great trades of force per unit area in run intoing the educational demands set out for them by the Korean Ministry of Education, university pupils however find themselves overly involved in student/sports festivals and extracurricular activities that keep their heads off their educational chases. Furthermore, the institutionally recognized grounds for pupils to lose categories are merely unheard of in most ‘higher ranked ‘ academic establishments.

On the whole, Korean university pupils have it relatively easy and few of them seem to take at least their freshers and senior old ages of university instruction every bit earnestly as they should, with many claiming that they in fact do small analyzing in their first-year twelvemonth. On the whole, they may merely be immersed in serious instruction in their sophomore and junior old ages. That is to state aside from the relaxed fresher environment, many pupils in their senior twelvemonth are easy let out of holding to go to categories if they had already found employment before the decision of their surveies, possibly as a consequence of a ill-conceived effort by their disposals to better the pupil employability figures of their establishments.

With all these factors combined, since at least 50 per centum of the Times superior system is sentiment based with 40 per centum based on a system of equal reappraisal and ten per centum based on a system of employer reappraisal ( QS World ; Methodology, 2008 ) , it is merely logical to reason that any ineffectualness in the Korean station secondary system of instruction would non travel unnoticed by the ‘peers ‘ and the ’employers ‘ who are being surveyed. Consequently, this would constantly take to lower rankings on a planetary graduated table.

The Post High School Break

For the most portion the South Korean secondary system of instruction puts pupils under a great trade of force per unit area in readying for the SAT ( Standard Achievement Test ) to acquire into the universities of their pick. What is more, in add-on to the clip pupils spend in high school, they spend long eventides in auxiliary private educational establishments, analyzing 15 hr yearss ( Dillon, 2008 ) , to fix for the SAT. Not surprisingly, South Korean 15 twelvemonth olds do good in mathematics and reading harmonizing to The Programme for International Student Assessment in 2006 ( PISA, 2006 ) . Assumingly, Korean university decision makers are good cognizant of this and are therefore likely to let pupils to hold a comparatively stress free academic twelvemonth as freshers in order to do up for the old twelvemonth of adversity caused by being overworked.

Student Surveies

My pupil studies reflect this really same point. That is, a important figure of pupils frequently point out that the work load in my Academic English class is inordinate, nevertheless, I would respectfully differ. To be exact, they merely have to manus in 3 written assignments, at less than one page each. Furthermore, there are merely four ratings, two of which are written, one of which is a presentation and the last one being a group treatment trial. All things considered, that barely accounts for an inordinate work load.

When I ask my pupils when they study and how much of it they do, frequently times they claim that they ne’er study. Even though this is nonfactual grounds and it may non keep true in all instances, it is yet another indicant that pupil class tonss are instead light in relation to their high school old ages. By and big, pupils do acknowledge that they did more perusal in high school than in their first-year twelvemonth of university, and this does talk volumes for why South Korean universities are ranked relatively low internationally.

One would believe that it is merely every bit valuable to hold higher ranked universities, therefore better university pupils, as it is to hold high executing 15 twelvemonth olds, nevertheless, there should be no alibi for South Korean universities to keep their pupils to take down criterions than the high schools that precede them. After all, to hold universities with higher criterions of instruction than those found in high schools would merely be the reasonable thing to make since it is best to raise and non drop the criterion of instruction at each new phase of a immature grownup ‘s educational development.

The Annual Student and Sports Festivals

Talking sanely, it is safe to presume that there is a clear advantage for pupils to experience comfy at their establishments, yet still disputatiously it may be overreaching acceptable boundaries when many South Korean station secondary establishments make it criterion for their pupils to take the bulk of a hebdomad off each for a pupil and athleticss festival in the spring and autumn semesters. It is the same as giving pupils the big portion of two hebdomads off from an full twelvemonth of their surveies in order to take part in activities that are incidental and more significantly non-academic.

Even if pupils are required to come to category at least a few times during the hebdomad of the pupil festival, they are however insufficiently functional as a consequence of the orgy imbibing that goes on during the class of the hebdomad. Even professors are encouraged by their sections to imbibe with their pupils at the beer collapsible shelters. This is for the most portion done as a trade off for the categories that are persuaded to be cancelled by the several sections. All in all, it may non come straight to mind for those in charge that imbibing on weeknights has lay waste toing effects on the coherency degrees of non merely the pupils but besides the professors/instructors in the forenoons to follow. Therefore, irrespective of the figure of existent cancellations, even the categories which are quickly held output low academic consequences.

What is more, particularly freshmen pupils, extremely instrumental in puting up and running of the pupil beer collapsible shelters where pupils gather by sections to imbibe together, are frequently excused from category lawfully so they can put up their drink collapsible shelters during the class of the pupil festival. Customarily, the pupils selected for set-up responsibility are frequently excused from go toing regular categories.

Relatively Insufficient Excuses for Absences

Aside from the institutionally recognized absences during the hebdomad of the pupil and athleticss festivals, leave taking for graduation photo-shoots are for the most portion considered as legitimate absences in the position of the station secondary system. More significantly, pupils are even excused from their regularly scheduled categories in order to look for their annual category and single exposure shoots. What is more, a figure of establishments allow female pupils to be excused for one twenty-four hours a month due to their premenstrual rhythm spasms. Possibly the statement could be made that this is instead unneeded pattern as it is non an equal alibi in higher graded establishments.

The South Korean Army Service for Young Men

As for my male first-year pupils, most of them miss a twenty-four hours of categories to travel to their ‘Army Test ‘ . This is a standardized physical scrutiny for immature Korean males who are of weaponries bearing age get downing at the age of 19. What is more tragic is that the Korean authorities frequently drafts a important part of male freshmen pupils during the center of the semester alternatively of waiting till the terminal so they could at least have the opportunity to finish their semester of surveies. These pupils frequently miss months of instruction. Taking this catastrophe into history, universities frequently get professors to establish these pupils ‘ classs on the work they had completed up to the point of their military bill of exchange. This is yet once more lost clip in category.

After holding completed two old ages in the armed forces, the returning pupils are allowed to get down the semester every bit much as one month into the class. In consequence, it is possible for pupils to lose about an full semester, holding completed merely over a semester of surveies, and still acquire credited for holding concluded both semesters.

The Senior Year Employment Excuse

What I find the most distressing is the inclination of Korean universities to allow pupils out of go toing a big part of their senior twelvemonth of surveies, all in the hopes of bettering the figures related to the employability of their pupils. On one peculiar juncture, I was even called by one of my former section caputs promoting me to pardon a senior pupil from an full semester of surveies as a consequence of him holding found a occupation less than half manner into his senior twelvemonth.

What should be even more distressing is that senior pupils on juncture discovery work in Fieldss unrelated to their big leagues, and still they are able to utilize this employment as an acceptable alibi to lose an full semester of categories. While it is standard pattern for professors and teachers to give some kind of out of category undertaking to these pupils, the sort of work they are able to give them seldom makes up for the schoolroom experience and cognition they could hold gained by really taking active functions in the categories.

The Inefficiency of the Heavy Course-load

It is true that South Korean pupils have a heavy category burden in their freshers twelvemonth, taking portion in every bit many as 20 hours worth of categories, however, it seems to be inefficient from the point of position that such a high per centum of them can still acquire off without really making any analyzing exterior of the schoolroom, as they frequently claim to make. All in all, it may really good be more advantageous for Korean university pupils to take portion in more efficient instruction with fewer categories that yield higher work loads.

The Differential Treatment of Foreign Instructors/Professors by Students

What is more, bad reappraisals by foreign professor and teachers frequently find their manner into the unfastened for all to see and therefore farther damaging the reputes of the several establishments. To be precise, the differential intervention of foreign professors by Korean pupils may besides travel far in this regard.

It is true that “ in the Chinese Confucian tradition, ‘teacher ‘ is the most well-thought-of profession ” ( Hofstede, 1986:304 ) and harmonizing to Cortazzi “ Confucianism, with its accent on household values and regard for age and acquisition, has been peculiarly influential on the Korean manner of life ” ( Cortazzi in Finch, 2000: Ch. 2.4.2 ) . What is more, Underwood states that “ Korea is a Confucian society. Everyone is Confucian, including the Christians ” . ( 1998:85 ) However, the high degrees of regard systematically expressed to Korean pedagogues by Korean pupils is seldom conveyed toward the foreign professor/instructor as Confucianism has no established system of behavior toward aliens.

Under the Confucian bequest, there is no proviso for pass oning with aliens who are by definition beyond the kingdom of prescription of the proper human relationship under Confucian moralss. Koreans are really polite and follow an luxuriant etiquette but merely toward insiders. They can be rather ill-mannered toward aliens.

( Yum, 1987:84 )

Possibly about automatically, this alone places the mean foreign professor/instructor outside of the Confucian hierarchy, hence being afforded a different criterion of intervention and regard by non merely the pupils but besides the disposal. Case and point, while Korean professors are frequently showered with gifts and congratulationss on instructor ‘s twenty-four hours, this does non look to be the instance for the mean foreign professor/instructor. At least this does non look to be the instance based on personal experience and the experience of a important figure of my co-workers. But of class, my non-Korean pupils are for the most portion much more acute on wishing me a happy instructor ‘s twenty-four hours and are seldom hesitating to bow to all their professors, irrespective of race and nationality. This in itself speaks volumes about the Korean station secondary pupils and their Confucian upbringing. After all, it is non uncommon for Korean pupils to bow to Korean professors in the hallways or at any other organized event. Students even stand up when a Korean professor walks into a room or any public assemblage. Of class this is seldom the instance with foreign professors. In fact, Korean pupils frequently treat foreign professors as if though they were simply their friends. At times they even call foreign professors by their first names, which of class is straight-out rude with regard to the standard intervention toward Korean professors. All in all, the standard behavior toward foreign professors by Korean pupils is really careless, for the most portion nothingness of the deep respect Korean professors are shown. Possibly this is besides because Koreans have “ no experience of diverseness ” and “ no openness to difference ” ( Underwood, 1998:91 ) .

Conceivably, due to the non-authoritarian instruction attack of the foreign professor/instructor, pupils may non see the demand to demo the same sum of regard toward the mean alien as opposed to the mean Korean. This difference in intervention between foreign and Korean professors/instructors, nevertheless, does non travel unnoticed by the foreign professors. Often times this is difficult for the ‘foreigner ‘ to get down and it goes far in estranging the foreign professor in what should otherwise be a professional instruction environment where race and nationality should hold small to make with the regard a individual is afforded.

What is more, I have even been told by decision makers at one of the station secondary establishments I work for that “ the tennis tribunals are merely for the Korean staff, hence, you can non utilize them. ” Subsequently, this was changed to “ the tennis tribunals are merely for tenured staff ” , but of class, for the most portion, merely the Korean staff has the opportunity to be tenured. Afterwards the diction changed yet once more and I was told that “ even though the tennis tribunals are usually reserved for tenured staff, an exclusion can be made so you can utilize it. Just do certain you pay the enrollment fees. Besides, make your best to acquire along with the Korean staff and attempt non to do them experience uncomfortable. ” Now what in the universe could I perchance do to do them experience uncomfortable? Throw balls or rackets at them? Surely I am non traveling to make that.

Overall, this blunt inclination by the disposals tends to direct the incorrect message to pupils, and the ensuing corporate prejudice does be given to estrange foreign professors at the several establishments. Surely, there is a existent likeliness that this has an indirect but negative consequence on the international rankings of Korean universities. That is to state, the word has the inclination to acquire out of Korea, and it is rather sensible to presume that this sort of repute goes far in carrying the ‘peers ‘ and ’employers ‘ , taking portion in the studies conducted by QS Times, to rank Korean universities comparatively low internationally. Keeping in head, that merely Seoul National University made it into the top 200 universities harmonizing to the Shanghai rankings and merely three Korean universities qualified for the top 200 group of station secondary establishments in the Times rankings ( QS, World & A ; Shanghai, 2008 ) . This is possibly the biggest sarcasm, for it is likely that the differential intervention of the foreign staff may really good hold the most far making effects with respect to the low rankings awarded to Korean universities by the equals and employers being surveyed by QS Times. After all, their combined sentiments accounting for 50 % in weight when it comes to the clinchers used to set up the overall rankings ( QS Times ; Methodology, 2008 ) .

Figure 1: The Times Higher Education Methodology




Academic Peer Review

Composite mark drawn from equal reappraisal study ( which is divided into five capable countries ) . 6,354 responses in 2008.

40 %

Employer Review

Score based on responses to employer study. 2,339 responses in 2008.

10 %

Faculty Student Ratio

Score based on pupil module ratio

20 %

Citations per Faculty

Score based on research public presentation factored against the size of the research organic structure

20 %

International Faculty

Score based on proportion of international module

5 %

( QS Times ; Methodology, 2008 )

With the equal reappraisal index accounting for 40 % of the entire weight used to cipher international rankings, would it non be a reasonable thing to handle co-workers as peers. That is to state, the really same co-workers that are treated indifferently by Korean pupils and station secondary establishments, every bit good as their friends with whom they portion personal experiences, could really probably do up a significant per centum of the equals make fulling in the studies. This would certainly ensue in the prescription of lower ranks to South Korean universities and therefore Korean parents would be more inclined to direct their kids to analyze at higher graded universities in the United States. After all, “ Traveling to U.S. universities has become like a immense craze in Korean society, and the Ivy League names – Harvard, Yale, Princeton – have truly struck a nervus, ” ( Harvard alumnus ; Victoria Kim in Dillon, 2008 ) .

Person please state the people in charge of the Korean station secondary establishments for they can no longer afford to let this increased inclination for pupils to analyze abroad as it leads to augmented fiscal strain on the pocketbooks of Korean parents. Overall, Koreans need to take instruction back into their ain custodies and go truly independent in footings of both secondary and station secondary instruction. They owe themselves at least this much.


Taken as a whole, Korean establishments and pupils every bit good as policy shapers need to take the above mentioned factors into serious consideration as the transparence of the state of affairs at the several Korean postsecondary establishments is inevitable given the nature of today ‘s planetary society being linked up by the World Wide Web. All in all, they must go more concerned with the likely clinchers that may really good put them in lower ranks internationally.

South Korea is non in a bubble, and every attempt must be made to guarantee that Korean pupils are held to international criterions, if the purpose is to better Korean post-secondary establishments on a planetary graduated table. Furthermore, the criterion for attending on all foreparts must be brought to international degrees and the Korean authorities should take the necessary stairss to do certain that male pupils are non pulled out of school half manner into the semester. What is more, universities themselves would be better off in leting pupils back into the pupil population merely when the semester is get downing and non every bit far as a month into it. Besides, establishments should guarantee that senior pupils complete their concluding twelvemonth of surveies and non be allowed to complete early in a mere attempt to better employability statistics. Furthermore, much attention should be taken to guarantee that pupil and athleticss festivals do non hold such profound impact on pupil attendings. Possibly, more significantly, foreign pedagogues should be exposed to the same degree of regard and the same sort of intervention as is the instance with the Korean pedagogues.

All in all, the universe is acquiring smaller and smaller with each go throughing twelvemonth, hence, it is imprudent to presume that what goes on behind closed doors stays behind closed doors for the doors have long been opened and the walls have for a piece been crystalline. All in all, any uneffective, deficient and colored patterns at the several establishments should be rooted out at all costs so that Korean station secondary establishments can derive a better stance on today ‘s planetary phase. Most significantly, the differential intervention of foreign professors at Korean universities must discontinue to be as it may travel far in destroying the repute of Korean universities worldwide.

Ultimately, it should be stated that it is non my purpose to knock Korean station secondary establishments, nevertheless, I do hold it necessary to pull public and institutional attending to any factors that are likely to lend to the comparative low rankings of Korean universities. This is needed so policy shapers and those groups of people in charge of the establishments can eventually admit that the jobs are echt and therefore be given ample consciousness and chances to efficaciously undertake the debatable issues. Overall, this would travel far in bettering the international rankings of Korean station secondary establishments and as a ensuing effect provide better chances for Korean pupils on a domestic degree, therefore going a win-win state of affairs for all parties involved.