Students demand flexibility in ABEEK
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Students demand flexibility in ABEEK
  • Park Se-ra
  • 승인 2011.11.18 13:05
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Complaints about the curriculum recommendations provided by the Accreditation Board for Engineering Education of Korea (ABEEK) have risen among students majoring in engineering nationwide, with increasing numbers of students dropping out.
First introduced to Korea in 1999, 42 universities with 277 programs are estimated to have achieved ABEEK accreditation of engineering education as of 2011. The Ewha College of Engineering officially earned accreditation in 2009.
ABEEK’s original intention was to promote innovation and quality assurance for education in engineering and to enhance the professional competencies of engineering professionals.
According to the Ewha College of Engineering, the drop out rates of juniors and seniors at Ewha were 30 percent majoring in Food Engineering, 20 percent in Environmental Engineering, 26 percent in Computer Science, 16 percent in Computer Information Communication, and 24 percent in Architectural Engineering this year. In addition, only 10 percent of Kyung Hee University students graduated with the ABEEK certificate in Department of Mechanical Engineering this year.
One of the reasons students withdraw from the ABEEK program is that it is too strict and limits students from taking advantage of other opportunities.
In the case of exchange programs, it is rarely the case that foreign universities that students hope to go support the ABEEK program or utilize its system. Thus, courses taken there will not count as credit as part of ABEEK back at the home school.
As of now, Ewha has agreements with 12 foreign universities supporting ABEEK, and requires that students attend universities under agreement with the ABEEK certificate.
“In order to go on an exchange student program, I will have to spend another year at Ewha to get enough credits for graduation with the ABEEK accreditation, which I thought was too much. In the end, I gave up,” Baek Hye-sun (Computer Science, 3) said.
Students also have a very limited array of liberal arts subjects to choose from. For those who follow the ABEEK curriculum, there are mandatory liberal arts courses, leaving them no freedom to choose for themselves.
This also leads to conflicts for students with double majors when their schedule of required classes clashes with their double major classes.
“In Ewha’s case, a bridge major, Science Technology Management, is mandatory. It is unfair that I pay so much money for tuition when I cannot choose classes that I actually want to take,” Choi Se-lim (Computer Science, 2) said.
ABEEK also requires students to take courses by order, making it difficult for students to take a short semester off. Engineering classes, in general, only open in the spring or fall semester, so taking a break halfway through a course is hard for students who want their degree to be accredited by ABEEK.
“After being discharged from military service, I wanted to return to school immediately but soon figured that having half of my classes not available nor open due to the set course schedule, I did not have much choice,” Nam Si-on (Hong-ik University, 4) said. “I spent another semester off doing nothing just because of this program.”
Some universities are quickly responding to students’ complaints. Seoul National University and Korea University decided to discontinue the ABEEK program last year, and instead opted to develop their own programs.
Starting next year, the Ewha College of Engineering is planning to change the criteria by cutting down compulsory credits from 60 to 54, and design classes, in which small groups of students have to work together on engineering projects, will also be cut down from 18 to 12 classes.
“Professors must actively participate in making a more flexible curriculum,” said Kim Jung-ho, the dean of the Department of Electronics Engineering at Ewha. “Most of all, companies must recognize the efficiency of the program and clarify the benefits to students who have completed this engineering education program in order to increase social awareness and encourage participation.”

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