Thursday, 25 August 2011

Form or content?

Higher Education in Korea is a very good example of social stratification. Not that Korea does not fight with inequalities, because numerous attempts are being done.

But this year, I have learnt that Seoul National University was turned into full private one. Most of Gangnam youngsters born with golden spoon in their mouth (if I am to cite my friend literally) voted for it.

It means that the tuition fee will significantly rise and so the door for smart people from less wealthy families will be closed, unless they get scholarship, or do some jobs for survival.Or something other than a "job" but what gives income.

Everyone in Korea beats to take seat at SNU, Korea Universyty or Yonsei, so called SKY. There is a notion that the top elite in the country are SKY graduates with easy path ahead in life.

In Korea however, the name matter more than the actual quality of education. Among lying challenges ahead is growing pressure for international majors made mostly in English. English language, very difficult for Koreans is used to explain matters which are enough complicated and difficult if taught in Korean.

Also big pressure for number of publications causes drop in it's quality, as not many of these poapers are cited by other scholars. Leydesdorff and Han mentioned about it in Scientometrics.

Young Koreans worry enough that they won't be able to pay for tuition fees and the situation when they do not pay for actual quality makes them frustrated even more. Professor Han, a physics scientist of Korean origin who works in USA, says that most of young Koreans did not posess basic skills of creative thinking and connecting facts when they entered PhD studies in USA.

Is the situation changing? I am not sure. Transformation of SNU into private entity is not a good sign. But I remember that I once met a girl who graduated from International Business at Ajou University in Suwon, and who was a successful investment banker at one of the better financial institutions. Being Ajou graduate, not at all top university in Korea, did not stop her from being successful.

Maybe there is some hope? I will get back to the aspects of Korean science in other posts too. Sorry for the long break.

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