Ewha, Konkuk and Chung-Ang University (CAU) will move majors to a newly established college, merge them, or accept students through colleges, not departments from 2016. The change in the school curricula has been driven by the need to provide freshmen with career-oriented education, which has been mentioned at the Seoul President Forum for university presidents held in March.
In the case of Konkuk University, the school declared on March 22 that it will accept students through departments instead of majors or colleges starting from 2016 undergraduate admissions. Ten departments will be established after the merging of majors and the number of departments will be reduced from 73 to 63. As a result, Architectural Design Engineering, Architectural Engineering and Housing Environment majors that existed under the Division of Architecture as separate majors will merge into the Department of Architecture. In addition, the merge will reduce the number of departments in the College of Art & Design from eight to six.
By expanding the size of each department through merging the majors, school authorities hope to strengthen the identities of majors that were previously vague. They also expect that department admissions will allow each department to offer a more specialized and career-oriented curriculum.
“Department admissions will provide freshmen with more opportunities to interact with the professors of their departments,” said one Konkuk University administrator.
However, the student association at Konkuk University is showing a different stance. On March 31, the association and students whose majors face merging occupied the school’s administrative building. They demanded a discussion with the school on the college restructuring plan and the establishment of an institution where students and the school can discuss school matters.
In addition to Konkuk, CAU announced its plan to admit students through colleges instead of departments from 2016. Under the new system, incoming students will decide their major in their sophomore year.
“We want students to explore different career paths and have freedom to choose the majors they want,” said a public relations official at CAU. “Also, the new academic system will foster a convergence of different studies.”
Students at CAU have conflicting opinions about the decision. In fact, some members of the General Student Association welcome college restructuring.
“We have not considered protesting against the restructuring plan,” said Han Woong-kyu, president of the General Student Association of CAU. “However, the period of major declaration should be hastened since the freshmen will decide their major in their sophomore year once the college restructuring is completed.”
Han also stressed the need to retain the enrollment capacity of departments related to basic sciences and humanities. This is because some majors could disappear if students decide their major after admissions. Also, the General Student Association called for the school to reveal the freshmen and sophomore common curriculum that will be introduced from 2016.
As for Ewha, the school confirmed the establishment of a new college that will incorporate five existing and two newly-created departments. By 2016, the Department of Clothing & Textiles, International Office Administration (IOA), Human Movement Studies, Nutritional Science & Food Management, and Health Education & Management will be transferred to the new college. However, students enrolled before 2016 can choose to remain at the former colleges.
Some students have shown disappointment toward the school’s decision to restructure the academic system without considering students’ opinions.
“The student government association will demand the school to reconsider college restructuring and release the index regarding the departments to transfer,” said psychology major Son Sol, the Ewha Student Government Association president.
Meanwhile, presidents of 17 universities gathered at the first Seoul President Forum for university presidents to discuss the future of universities in Korea. Held on March 25, the forum sought solutions to issues such as the shift in the paradigm of tertiary education and the government’s pressure to reduce the enrollment capacity.
President of CAU Lee Yong-goo stressed the need for proactive universities.
“The world is moving at a fast pace, whereas Korean universities are not,” he remarked. “We should make changes to provide education that benefits the nation and society.”