Students who had been frequenting the Korea University Lecture Evaluation (KLUE) website and the school portal site to plan their class schedules for the 2018 Spring Semester were bewildered the day before course registration. Even before it was their turn to register, freshmen and sophomores found that many of the courses were already at full capacity, with registration quotas disregarded entirely. There were no announcements on the portal site, and online communities were subsequently filled with confused students.
Many Korea University (KU) students were left nonplussed during their core general studies course registration in February. An error had taken the system down, meaning that the quota for each year level had not been set. Many seniors were successfully registered for the courses, but due to the error, there was little room left for freshmen, sophomores, or juniors. The students had to plan their class schedules all over again; the time and effort they had invested in fine-tuning their schedules over the past few weeks came to nothing. Students were left confused, while the school administration turned a blind eye to their plight.
In fact, this is not the first time that course registration has been the center of controversy. “Our department’s major courses admits too few students. We have trouble graduating if we cannot take the required major courses, but the school would not let us take them if we click on the button a few seconds later than others,” said Yang Seok-jeong (’17, Business Administration). The problem is not limited to the College of Business Administration. “To make matters worse, if we are on the waiting list, we cannot see how many students registered before we did, so we have to wait without any knowledge of whether we can take the course or not,” he added.
▲ Before and After the appearance of grade quotas. Provided by sugang.korea.ac.kr
Steps to Improving the System
Fortunately, to solve the long-standing registration problems, the Division of Education Policy came up with an improvement plan for the course registration system, which was submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs and discussed in a meeting on February 26. Many KU students have questioned whether the way they register for courses was ideal, calling it a war of mouse clicks. Whether they can take a course or not is decided by the speed they click on a button. “We pay the same tuition fee, but only a select few with fast mouse clicks can take the courses they want,” commented a student on Koreapas.
“Although course registration has a direct connection to the students’ educational rights, the students’ voices have not been reflected so far,” said Lee Gyu-sang (’16, Health and Environmental Science), head of the Division of Education Policy. To deal with the recent issue and the problem with the current course registration policy, the Division of Education Policy suggested the school add another step before course registration to gauge the demand for each course from each year level.
Currently, students can select preferred courses before course registration. However, the process is of little use. “We advised the administration to utilize the process as a way to rationally distribute the quota for each year level,” said Lee. “When the students enter their preferred courses, the school can have a general understanding of the demand for the course per year level and reflect it when they set the quotas for each year level.”
For instance, if 200 freshmen, 100 sophomores, 300 juniors and 400 seniors enter a course as their preferred course, the school can set quotas following a ratio of 2:1:3:4. “We figured out that the school does not have any definite regulations for setting the quota for each year level. This way, we thought the quota would become much more reasonable,” said Lee. The division also mentioned that it would be helpful to post the popularity of a certain course online to help the students plan their schedules.
An Indifferent Response
During the meeting on February 26, the school was willing to accept the suggestion because the Office of Academic Affairs was also searching for ways to revamp the preferred course system. However, they told KUSU that incorporating the preferred course system when setting the quota for each year level was impossible. “There are 3,000 courses at KU, according to the Office of Academics Affairs, so they thought it impractical to check the preferred course list for every lecture,” said Lee.
KUSU suggested 30 as the maximum number of credits that one student should be allowed to enter for his or her preferred courses, which was opposed by the Office of Academic Affairs; the Office stated that it would overstate the popularity of certain courses and confuse students. Instead, they proposed the maximum number of credits in the preferred course stage should be equal to the actual number of credits that a student can take. Furthermore, the Office came up with the idea that if fewer students register for a course than its maximum capacity, they would let the students who entered the course as their preferred course automatically register for it, so that they do not need to register for it again on course registration day.
"ALTHOUGH COURSE REGISTRATION HAS A DIRECT CONNECTION TO THE STUDENTS' EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS, THE STUDENTS' VOICES HAVE NOT BEEN REFLECTED SO FAR."
The meeting did not come to full agreement, but common ground was reached with the idea of utilizing the preferred course process in a better way. Although the administration did not give KUSU a definite answer as to how the system would be changed, they claimed that they will try to implement a revised course registration system starting this Fall semester. “KUSU hoped that students’ demands would be reflected in the quota per year level, an idea that was unfortunately rejected,” said Lee. “However, we still regard this meeting as a big step toward the best way to protect KU students’ educational rights.”
Protecting Basic Educational Rights
It is unclear if the administration’s attempt to develop the preferred course list system would benefit the students as much as the school expects because the method suggested by the Division of Education Policy seems to be far more helpful. The administration is planning on changing the course registration system for the Fall semester, but without thorough examination and preparation, changes could worsen the situation.
Organizations within the school exist to provide a better campus life and education for students, and course registration is directly related to both of these goals. Whether they succeed in their course registration or not, something which is currently driven by luck, determines a student’s schedule for the whole semester. Supporting the students as much as possible when registering for courses is a basic requirement. When course registration for the Fall semester comes, students will be able to see whether the school can follow through on their basic promise.