Demanding to end an act that strengthens hierarchy among universitiesThe reputation of the universities people go to is a crucial factor that would follow students’ life in South Korea. As such academic factors are the most important traits defining a person in the country, it may be even natural that the subject is brought up in the media, including the press.
The first press evaluation of the universities started in 1994 by Joongang Ilbo, followed by Chosun Ilbo and Dong-A Ilbo in 2009 and 2013 respectively. The standards of the press evaluation are based on the graduates’ employment rate, school’s financial affairs, the number of foreign exchange students and the proportion of English lectures.
While receiving criticisms that press evaluation did nothing to actually improve the level of university education, it continued to be prevalent in Korean society until now. Korea University’s Student Government Association (SGA) took action and started an opposition movement toward the press evaluation of the schools.
“We started this protest because we knew that the media’s arbitrary judgment of the schools and emphasizing of the reputations of the universities only hurts the essence of the university education and the students themselves,” said Kwon Soon-min (Korea University, 2), the chief vice president of the policy department of Korea University. “Thus, the SGA started the refusal movement to put an end to the meaningless ranking of the schools.”
Korea University’s SGA made an official announcement of their position in opposition to press evaluations and posted their stance on their Facebook page on Sept. 22.
Also they distributed the information about the refusal movement and held a booth event within the university to notify fellow students of the problems of university evaluation.
“The SGA is planning to open a press conference in front of Joongang Ilbo building with other supporting universities next week,” Kwon said. “We are holding a forum related to the subject the week after that.”
Following the example of Korea University’s SGA, other schools are raising their voices as well, with the SGAs from Kyunghee University, Hanyang University, Dongguk University and Sungkonghoe University also holding a press conference in front of Joongang Ilbo and opposing the press evaluation of the schools.
They declared that they were fully supportive of the Korea University’s SGA and hoped they could all contribute to eliminating the social norm of ranking universities. However, not all students agree with the SGA’s sudden movement.
“Although I understand that an educational institution is not to be judged by the media, the press was only doing its job of transferring information about the universities to the public,” said a student from Korea University who wishes to remain anonymous. “Instead of concerning oneself with such pointless rankings evaluated by the press, students should concentrate on the reality at hand. It seems to me that our SGA is overreacting and they should focus more on the problems going on inside the university rather than outside.”
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