Despite being widely considered the top university in Korea, Seoul National University may need to do something to inspire its students, as a recent survey indicated that 1 in every 4 students at the school have considered dropping out.
According to the survey by a local daily, 24 percent said they thought about leaving the school, while over half of the respondents said they were disappointed with the school’s programs.
One student said he felt as though the university programs were designed for the sole purpose of teaching practical job skills, rather than to actually promote learning. Another student said most lectures at SNU focused on delivering information, much like in high school.
“Sometimes it feels like a glorified private institute. I came to think, ‘What am I doing here?’” he said.
The number of SNU dropouts has hovered above 100 since 2010, with 105 students dropping out of the university in 2013.
“In order for SNU to compete with top institutions from other countries, it must revamp its curriculum to encourage more research,” said Lee Won-geun, secretary general of the Korea Council for University Education. He added that the school must remove its tradition of favoring SNU graduates when hiring faculty members.
SNU is not the sole culprit in providing subpar education programs for students. Higher education institutes in Korea have been accused of being overly focused on teaching students basic qualifications that will help in the job market, such as English scores and national certifications on skills like accounting.
Much of this blame fell on the government for implementing a college evaluation system that is based on the quantity of the outcome rather than the quality of the education. For example, one of the major criteria is the percentage of a university’s graduates who successfully land jobs.
The bottom rankers in this evaluation face limitations in government subsidies and state-led programs and schools that fall at the bottom two times in a row will be forced to close.
Yoon Jin-kwan, a professor of English at Duksung University, said universities are becoming “job seeking academies” because the government assesses them based on their graduates’ success in the job market. Because of this, he said the universities are losing their capability to train students’ creativity, judgment and overall ability to think.
By Yoon Min-sik (firstname.lastname@example.org)