March has finally arrived. As the new semester comes to a fresh start, students make an age-old wish: receiving a scholarship. While scholarships are generally considered to be a benefit given only to academically excellent students, Korea University (KU) has been offering a wide opportunity to those who wish to challenge themselves. With KU's Truth Scholarship, students can design their future.
In 2016, KU underwent a massive shake-up in the scholarship system and became the first university in Korea to abolish the academic scholarship, which awarded scholarships to students with an outstanding Grade Point Average (GPA). The administration announced that its new scholarship program aimed to break away from compensating students for good grades and focus on giving support to students in real need. As a result, the academic scholarship was replaced by the program-based Truth Scholarship which supports students’ research or future plans.
Truth Scholarship differs from any other program in that students are able to design the scholarships. Instead of the administration deciding the content of the program, specifically assigning students to a certain area and telling them what to do, financial support is provided according to the plans submitted by the student. The program could be designed at either an individual or a college level. For example, the College of Information and Communications and the College of Business Administration have been running the "IT Leadership Program" and "Entrepreneurship Academy" every summer and winter vacation.
In the Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD), four main scholarship programs exist: KU Undergraduate Student Research Scholarship, KU Get Away Project (GAP), KU Real Project Program (RPP), and Future Leaders Program (FLP). In particular, KU RPP participants can be mentored by employees in world-renowned companies. “The best part of the Truth Scholarship is that we are able to nurture independence. Since participants must come up with ideas of their own, we can break free from being recipients of knowledge and become designers of our life,” said Kang Pureunsol (‘15, French Language and Literature), a KU RPP participant.
The KU Global Leadership Center manages the KU Global Leadership Program (KUGLP). It has been carried out since 2013 to groom students into local specialists who are proficient in a multitude of languages and knowledgeable about cultures of specific regions. The selected are provided with four weeks’ worth of special language training and are fully funded for the next four weeks of local training. The program started to expand from China to Japan and Latin America starting 2017.
The biggest change after KU's scholarship reform in 2016 is that no scholarship is given by default. As per the famous quote, "No work, no pay," students who are in need of support from the school should look for the opportunity. Most of all, regularly checking Korea University Portal to Information Depository (KUPID) is essential, for the application period for these programs fluctuates every year. While KU AHRD and KU Global Leadership Center try to promote their programs as much as possible, it is still difficult for students to check all the websites.
According to the KU AHRD, the average competition rate for their programs is around three to one, which is significantly low compared to their good quality. While it is good to make students actively search for their future, going forward the administration should also consider developing more accessible platform if they are to facilitate their student's dreams.