From the late 1990s, universities have gradually changed their admission systems from a department-based system into a college-based system, as the Kim Young-sam presidential administration announced its 5.31 reform bill on education that allowed universities to adopt a college-based system. A college-based system allows all freshmen to study within a broad college such as the humanities or sciences. Then, they can choose specific majors beginning from their sophomore years. However, in April 2008, the Lee Myung-bak administration announced the removal of state guidelines on universities, giving them more autonomy in terms of selecting school systems.
With this announcement, many universities have considered changing their admission systems to ameliorate some of the disadvantages of a college-based system. “A college-based system may overlook the importance of some basic studies, leading students to neglect those; but it can lead to the integration among different studies," said Professor Hwang Kyu-ho (Education). The major alternative to a college-based system is a department-based system, which allows students to take courses specific to their major from their freshman year.
Currently, Donga University has reformed its admission system into a department-based system. “Our university maintained 16 colleges until 2008, but for the 2009 admissions, we have increased numbers of departments to 64 and decided to maintain only one college among 16 in the past,” said Han Jin-sub, who works in Donga University 's planning department. “The reason for abolishing the colleges is because it is hard for us to evaluate the academic performances of students as well as classes due to the big size of a college," said Han.
Also, Inje University has transformed its colleges into several departments. "Both students and professors acknowledged some side-effects of a college-based system that it did not provide students with in-depth knowledge," said Kim Jin-ho, the head of Inje University 's Educational Affairs Department.
Yonsei University is also thinking about returning to a department-based system from 2010. “Our university has decided to adopt the department-based system and apply it to the College of Humanities and the College of Science ; those two colleges strongly suggest that the school adopt a department-based system. The educational affairs board already made a final decision to make the actual changes,” said Lee Hun-mook, who works in the Educational Affairs Department at Yonsei University .
Handong Global University , however, has valued a college-based system since its establishment. "A college-based system, which we operate now, can develop students' potential because it allows them to meet diverse topics in academics within the name of a college. Moreover, students can study whatever they like to study rather than being forced by others," said Lee Jong-sik, the head of Handong Global University 's Educational Affairs Department. “Taking various kinds of introductory courses during the first year in my college helped me to choose the right major that suited me because I was not sure what subject to major in,” said Chae Ji-hye (Handong Global University, 2)
While some universities are weighing whether to reform their admission system to a department-based system or not, Ewha has not yet decided their stance. “Until the year 1995, Ewha maintained a department-based system, but from 1996, we adopted the college-based system. For now, specific statutes of the government regarding university admissions have not been enacted yet, so nothing has been discussed,” said Lee Keum-suk, who works in the Office of University Planning and Coordination.
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