Kim In-chul, president of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, took office Wednesday as the 25th chairman of the Korean Council for University Education.
In his inaugural address, Kim said South Korea’s universities face the challenge of providing quality education on a par with competitors on the global stage.
“The job of laying the groundwork for improving the quality of higher education cannot be delayed,” he said, pledging reform.
The council will work closely with the Ministry of Education as its trusted partner, he said, to encourage innovation in Korea’s higher education scene.
Two challenges faced by higher education institutions are financial security and autonomy, he said, which call for an urgent solution.
“The fourth industrial revolution demands we equip our students with the skills necessary to thrive in a changing environment,” he said.
“A long-term freeze in tuition fees makes investments in educational infrastructure more difficult,” he said. “I fear this will lead to a reduction in the universities’ capacity to offer quality education.”
Kim said restoring the financial security of Korean universities was one of the council’s chief goals.
He also vowed to pursue multilateral, open communication with member universities and students in his new role.
“Transparent communication is one of our most cherished ideals as educators,” he said.
Kim’s term ends two years from Wednesday.
The council, founded in 1982, consists of 41 state universities, 153 private universities and six universities established under special laws. Some 200 presidents of four-year universities also stand as members.