New legislation regarding the rights of part-time instructors was approved by the Education Committee of the National Assembly on Nov. 15. The legislation was passed at the assembly’s plenary session on Nov. 29 and is to be enacted in August, 2019.
The proposed legislation stated some concrete measures that aims to promote the rights of part-time instructors. It included obliging universities to hire part-time instructors with a written contract, pay them during vacation, and offer a minimum one-year contract except for specific cases listed in the legislation.
Part-time instructors welcomed the change, but said that universities should not abuse the law by dismissing them.
A press conference held by 1,739 people including part-time instructors, professors, researchers and graduate students in front of the National Assembly on Nov. 28 urged that the government should provide the budget for the legislation and inspect whether universities are providing a fair environment for part-time workers.
However, universities’ opinions differed from those of part-time instructors. Before the legislation was put on a vote at the assembly plenary session, universities expressed concerns regarding the costs that will be incurred if the law is enacted. The deans of 22 colleges and graduate schools of Seoul National University (SNU) delivered an official announcement against the new legislation to the Chairman of the National Assembly on Nov. 20, saying that universities will have to decrease the number of classes and increase the number of students per class, which could result in decreased quality of classes.
Regarding the issue, Ewha’s Office of Faculty Affairs (OFA) responded that Ewha is preparing for the new legislation. Since concrete guidelines on how the law should be enacted are not yet decided by the government, the OFA will come up with measures after the guidelines are announced. Kim Myung-hwan, a professor from the Department of English Language and Literature at SNU, published a column in a local newspaper, that shows his concerns about official announcement made by deans of SNU. Kim shared his thoughts on how universities should act regarding the legislation.
“Of course, budget support is needed from the government when the law is enacted,” Kim said. “However, universities themselves should also seek ways to finance costs to promote the rights of instructors. Universities should not decrease the number of classes or increase the number of students per class, for the sake of class quality.”