Along with the news of the beginning of construction of Future Engineering Hall, the merger and loss of several departments are considered as one of the biggest news in the science campus of Korea University (KU). Currently, the faculties of the College of Health Science and those of the Information & Communication Technology (ICT) departments are involved in a series of discussions regarding merging and abolishing some of their departments. While the school staff and faculties claim these changes are solely to improve the departments, many affected students have doubts about KU’s actual purpose.
In particular, for the case of College of Health Science, the discussions regarding this matter were held by a special committee that was composed of the dean of the education department, the deans of several colleges, and three professors from the College of Health Science. The changes that the committee is discussing are to merge several departments that teach similar fields into a few bigger departments. These types of reforms would follow the College of Engineering, which has seven departments, with a high number of students.
▲ The KUSA protesting in front of Student Union Building.Provided by chonghak.korea.ac.kr
In particular, the special committee recommended transforming the original eight departments into three—an engineering-related department that would teach medical technology, a science department that would teach pharmacy and related fields, and a humanities department that would include healthcare administration. The potential advantages are that under the new department system, students could study a more diversified course of fields that they might not be able to in the current system.
The reform could also increase the competitiveness of the department as a whole. By merging similar departments, it could directly solve the issue of the small size of the College of Health Science departments. Currently, the number of professors in each department does not exceed eight, while that of other science department is sometimes more than 30. The low number of professors directly damages the department’s rankings because the number of students per professor is one of the most important factors in university rankings. By combining the expertise of professors from several fields, it could also facilitate innovative research.
On the other hand, the reactions of the students of the related departments are unilaterally negative. Kim Hae Lin (’12, Food and Nutrition), claimed that “the biggest damage of the reform is that it would eradicate our qualifications to take the medical technician license exam.” That medical technician is one of the three core professions of any medical system has attracted many technical colleges to set up departments related to that field. However, the Ministry of Health & Welfare (MW) has a policy of limiting the number of institutions of teaching such expertise, which makes having such departments a KU’s strong suit. “I still cannot understand the reason why the faculty is willing to lose such an advantage,” Kim added to express her confusion.
Similar situations are happening at the ICT departments, including the College of Information and Communication, the Department of Cyber Defense, and Computer Science Education. The ICT change would not be as extensive as those of the College of Health Science, since the reform that these three departments are initiating is to simply merge these departments into one. While the new departments of the Health Science have been announced, although not final, that of the ICT departments have not yet been made.
As a formal request, KU Student Association (KUSA) made an announcement on October 10 in front of the Student Union Building. During the announcement attended by the members of KUSA and representatives of Health Science the president of the student union of Health Science Yoon Seok Won (’09, Dental Laboratory Science and Engineering) said that “the students are not solely disagreeing with the reform; we believe that there should be at least one student representative on the special committee in order to reflect students’ opinions on the changes.”
Although it might slow down the process of discussion and thus the reforms, all the students are requesting is to have the right to discuss a matter that could affect their university lives and future career. Not to mention that without an explicit explanation from the school, the true purpose of the school’s reforms might be hidden from the students.