Universities offer “legitimate break” to promote students’ startup businesses
Universities offer “legitimate break” to promote students’ startup businesses
  • Kim Hye-won
  • 승인 2016.03.14 11:25
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More and more universities are promoting students’ start-up business by adopting separate leave of absence policies for those who need to take time off to start their own businesses.
Ewha recently modified its school policy to provide greater tolerance towards students who leave the school to start their own businesses. Students can now take maximum of four-semester-long leave of absence. Ewha also  enacted the policy that separates leave of absence for business start-up from general leave of absence. From this semester, the number of semesters a student took off to start her own business and that of other normal leave of absence is no longer computed together.
Seoul National University (SNU) revised its school policy in 2014, also separating leave of absence for business start-up from that of general purpose and permitted additional two semesters onto original six semesters allowed for general leave of absence.
Such trends of perceiving leave of absence for business start-up separately and allowing additional semesters have been prevalent among universities. Korea University also took the same measure and added two full years of leave of absence for the purpose of initiating businesses, allowing a total of five years for students preparing for startups. From those universities in the capital area such as Sogang and Dongguk University and to those in provincial area such as Pusan National University or Daegu University took the same or similar measures.
Statistics and surveys show that such efforts of universities are taking in effect. According to the survey on “present condition of infrastructure of university businesses start-ups” conducted by Korea Institute of Startup & Entrepreneurships Development  in May of 2015 expanded infrastructure for business start-ups such as extended leave of absence boosted activities of business establishments founded by university students and business start-up clubs.
The data shows that the number of business establishments founded by university students has increased by 27 percent from the year of 2014 and the number of business start-up clubs has increased by 38 percent. The number of universities who took separate leave of absence system for the sake of business start-ups reached 2000 in 2015 and the number of students who used such system was counted to be 160.
Not only universities themselves, but also the government actively supports students’ starting out their own businesses and encourages schools to support them. The Ministry of Education even suggested five universities specializing in sciences and technology such as Korea Advanced Institute for Science and Technology and Pohang University of Science and Technology to adopt a leave of absence system specifically for students who want to establish their own firms.
 “I just applied for six semesters of leave of absence to start my own business,” said Oh Chae-ryung, a junior majoring in Business at Korea University. “The fact that I can still take a lot more semesters off without worrying about graduation allows me to fully devote to my business. Since leading a business is complicated process with a lot of unexpected circumstances, having back up leave of absence is such a reassurance.”

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