University Education in South Korea


 

 

The Rankings of South Korean Universities

 
 

Domestic University Rankings (1994-2001)
 

Figure 1                   (Kang, 2004)

Name of University

1994-2001 Average CSAT Percentile

Joongang’s Ranking

Location

National/Private

1. Seoul National University

98.7

3

Seoul

National

2. Pohang University of Science and Technology

98.4

1

Kyongsang

Private

3. Yonsei University

96.8

4

Seoul

Private

4. Korea University

96.5

5

Seoul

Private

5. Sogang University

95.1

7

Seoul

Private

6. Seoul National University of Education

93.6

-

Seoul

National

7. Ewha Woman’s University

92.9

9

Seoul

Private

8. Hanyang University

92.1

7

Seoul

Private

9. Hankook university of Foreign Language Studies

92.1

21

Seoul

Private

10. Ajou University

90.3

18

Kyongki

Private

11. Handong Global University

89.6

-

Kyongsang

Private

12. Chung-Ang University

89.0

12

Seoul

Private

13. Hongik university

88.7

-

Seoul

Private

14. Pusan National University

87.9

10

Kyongsang

National

15. University of Seoul

87.7

22

Seoul

National

16. Sungkyunkwan University

87.5

6

Seoul

Private

17. Kyung Hee University

86.2

16

Seoul

Private

 
 
References
 

Kang, Shin-who (2007) ‘Hungary University Wants to Network With Korea’, Korea Times [Online] Available at: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/nation_view.asp?newsIdx=1044&categoryCode=117 (Accessed October 4, 2008)

 


 
2007 Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Times Higher Education - QS World Rankings
 

Figure 2                  (Shanghai, 2007)

Shanghai Jiao Tong University Rankings - 2007

 Asian Ranking

University Name

World Ranking

21

Seoul National University

164

32

Korea Advanced Inst. Sci. & Tech

220

41

Yonsei University

303

50

Korea University

324

58

Pohang Univ. Sci. & Tech.

335

59

Sungkyunkwan University

334

70

Hanyang University

417

87

Pusan National University

449

 

 Figure 3                                  (QS World, 2007)

Times Higher Education – QS World University Rankings 2007

World Ranking

University Name

51

Seoul National University

132

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Tech

233

Pohang University of Science and Technology

236

Yonsei University

243

Korea University

380

Sungkyunkwan University

398

Sogang University

 
 
References
 
QS World (2007) ‘Times Higher Education – QS World University Rankings 2007 - Top 400 Universities’, QS TOPUNIVERISITES [Online] Available at: http://www.topuniversities.com/worlduniversityrankings/ (Accessed September 20, 2008)
 
Shanghai (2007) ‘Top 500 World Universities’, Academic Ranking of World Universities, 2007 [Online] Available at: http://ed.sjtu.edu.cn/rank/2007/ARWU2007FullListByRank.pdf (Accessed June 2, 2008)
 
 
  

2009 Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Times Higher Education - QS World Rankings

Figure 4: Shanghai Jiao Tong University Rankings - 2009

University Name

World Ranking

Seoul National University

167

Korea Advanced Inst. Sci. & Tech

211

Yonsei University

301

Hanyang University

313

Korea University

323

Pohang Univ. Sci. & Tech.

333

Sungkyunkwan University

340

Pusan National University

444

(Shanghai, 2009)     

Figure 5: Times Higher Education – QS World University Rankings 2009

World Ranking

University Name

47

Seoul National University

69

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Tech

134

Pohang University of Science and Technology

151

Yonsei University

211

Korea University

339

Hanyang University

357

Sungkyunkwan University

371

Pusan National University

374

Kyung Hee University

379

Sogang University

397

Ehwa Womans University

418

Inha University

 (QS World, 2009)


 References

 
QS World (2009) ‘Times Higher Education – QS World University Rankings 2007 - Top 400 Universities’, QS TOPUNIVERISITES [Online] Available at: http://www.topuniversities.com/worlduniversityrankings/ (Accessed September 20, 2008)
 

Shanghai (2009) ‘Top 500 World Universities’, Academic Ranking of World Universities, 2007 [Online] Available at: http://www.arwu.org (Accessed in February 2010)

 
 


 

2010 Times Higher Education - Thomson Reuters: World University Rankings

 

 Figure 6:

University Name

Research – Volume, Income, Reputation

Korean Ranking

World Ranking

Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)

62.5

1

28

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)

63.4

2

79

Seoul National University (SNU)

54.1

3

109

Yonsei University

48.7

4

190

Sung Kyun Kwan University

53.7

5

230

Korea University

40.5

6

258

 (THE-Reuters 2010)

 

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
Figure 7:

The Times Higher Education - University Reputation Ranking 2011

Reputation Rank

Reputation Grouping Rank

University

2010 THE – Reuters University Rank

Country

55

51-60

Seoul National University

109

Republic of Korea (South Korea)

93

91-100

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

79

Republic of Korea (South Korea)

NA

NA

Pohang Institute of Science and Technology

28

Republic of Korea (South Korea)

NA

NA

Yonsei University

190

Republic of Korea (South Korea)

NA

NA

Sung Kyun Kwan University

230

Republic of Korea (South Korea)

NA

NA

Korea University

258

Republic of Korea (South Korea)


(Times Higher Education , 2011)
 

References 
 
THE-Reuters (2010) 'THE World University Rankings 2010', Times Higher Education - Thomson Reuters [Online] Available at: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/2010-2011/top-200.html
 
 

2011-2012 Times Higher Education – Reuters: World University Rankings

University Name

Korean Rank

International Rank

Pohang Institute of Science and Technology

1

53

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

2

94

Seoul National University

3

124

Yonsei University

4

235

Korea University

5

244

Sungkyunkwan University

6

307

Kyunghee University

7

382

(THE-Reuters, 2011-2012)

 
 

Reasons Why Korean Universities are Ranked Relative Low Internationally

 

 

Jambor, Paul Z.'Why South Korean Universities Have Low International Rankings', Academic Leadership: Volume 7 - Issue 1, February 20, 2009

 

Jambor, Paul Z.'Why South Korean Universities Have Low International Rankings - Part II: The Student Side of the Equation', Academic Leadership: Volume 7 - Issue 3, August 10, 2009


 

 

The Methodologies of the University Ranking Systems
 (2007-2010)

 

 

The Shanghai Jiao Tong 2008 World University Ranking Methodology

Criteria

Indicator

Code

Weight

Quality of Education

Alumni of an institution winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals

Alumni

10%

Quality of Faculty

Staff of an institution winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals

Award

20%

Highly cited researchers in 21 broad subject categories

HiCi

20%

Research Output

Articles published in Nature and Science*

N&S

20%

Articles indexed in Science Citation Index-expanded, and Social Science Citation Index

PUB

20%

Per Capita
Performance

Per capita academic performance of an institution

PCP

10%

Total

 

 

100%

* For institutions specialized in humanities and social sciences such as London School of Economics, N&S is not considered, and the weight of N&S is relocated to other indicators.

(Shanghai Jiao Tong; Methodology, 2008)

 

 

The Times Higher Education – QS Methodology (2007-2009)

Indicator

Explanation

Weighting

Academic Peer Review

Composite score drawn from peer review survey (which is divided into five subject areas). 6,354 responses in 2008.

40%

Employer Review

Score based on responses to employer survey. 2,339 responses in 2008.

10%

Faculty Student Ratio

Score based on student faculty ratio

20%

Citations per Faculty

Score based on research performance factored against the size of the research body

20%

International Faculty

Score based on proportion of international faculty

5%

(QS Times; Methodology, 2008)

 

 

Note! The methodology of the Times Higher Education University (THE) Ranking System changed in 2007 as well in 2010 when THE partnered up with Thomson Reuters as opposed to QS (as was the case before 2010).

 

Times Higher Education – Thomson Reuters: World University Rankings 2010

Weighing Scheme for Ranking Scores

 

Main Indicator

 

Sub-Indicator

Weighing

- Total: 100%

 

Research -

volume, income and reputation

Reputational survey - research

19.5

Research income (scaled)

5.25

Papers per academic and research staff

4.5

Public research

income/total research income

 

0.75

 

Teaching -

the learning environment

Reputational survey - teaching

15

PhD awards per academic

6

Undergraduates admitted per academic

4.5

Income per academic

2.25

PhD awards/bachelor’s awards

2.25

International mix - staff and students

Ratio of international to domestic staff

3

Ratio of international to domestic students

2

Industry income -innovation

research income from industry (per academic staff)

 

2.5

Citations -

research influence

Citation impact

(normalized average citations per paper)

 

32.5

(Times Higher Education – Thomson Reuters 2010 Methodology)


 
 
 
 
 

Methods of Entrance into South Korean Universities

for Korean Students

 

Jeongshi – Entrance into University via K-SAT scores (KSAT in Korean is the Sooneung (수능): short for 대학 시험 which literally means College Studies Comprehension Ability Test- since 1994)

Sooshi – Entrance into University via individualized university entrance criteria

Since 1994

Since 1999

Once a year (After the KSAT test)

Multiple times a year

Universal evaluation criteria

Evaluation criteria set by each university

Evaluation by K-SAT

Evaluation by universities according to their own criteria

In especially the elite universities, for approximately half the students, 100% emphasis is put on their KSAT scores, while the other half enter on a 60-70% KSAT score and a 30-40% high school GPA average evaluation ratio basis, depending on the university.

Emphasis on high school grades, school awards, volunteering, student council work, ability in languages etc. (Certain universities put partial emphasis on student KSAT scores)

Evaluation during the course of one day (once a year)

Entrance test by universities several times a year, as well as ongoing evaluation throughout the years the student spends in high school

The focus is on students’ abilities to solve problems quickly and correctly

The focus is on the students’ abilities to communicate concepts and ideas clearly and effectively

The primary method of testing is based on a multiple choice format (Some listening involved in testing English language comprehension)

Multi-method testing (essay and interview - both of which can be in a foreign language, high school evaluations, etc.)

In case of students whose KSAT scores are exceptionally high, the sole emphasis is on their KSAT scores, while for students with lower KSAT scores have their high school grades taken into consideration in addition to their KSAT scores.

Emphasis is on wide-ranging evaluation criteria (that may include student KSAT scores if available)

In relation to students’ KSAT scores, much less emphasis is put on their high school grades

Factors in the grades students receive in high school

Perceived to be based on a more objective method of evaluation therefore it is seen to be fair

Perceived to be based on more subjective methods of evaluation

Favours students in urban areas where the public schools offering the highest levels of education tend to be located and where private education is readily available

Favours students in rural areas where the schools offering the lowest levels of education are located and where private education is not readily available

Favours students who are good a short term memory retention with strong logical and analytical skills

Favours students with foreign language skills, creative potential, leadership skills, essay writing skills, communicative ability, intrinsic motivation etc.

- Korean, math, English, are the core requirement subjects, with 4 additional subjects chosen by the students according to either of requirements of the two test types (as indicated below).

A second foreign language test is optional

Not applicable

The two basic test types are:

a) Egwa - Science subjects based test (Students choose a maximum of 4 out of 8 additional subjects)

b) Moongwa – Liberal art/Social studies subjects based test  (Students choose a maximum of 4 out of 11 additional subjects)

While each university has its own distinct evaluation criteria, they all tend to make a general distinction between the evaluation methods in the case of students applying to science and liberal arts colleges.

 Source

 
 
 
 
 
 

The risky game that a significant number of Korean university students tend to play

It is by now well known by most Korean university students that non-tenured instructors and professors working on a contract basis need high student evaluation scores to be considered for a contract renewal at the university.

Armed with this knowledge, a limited but nonetheless a significant number of students have come to abuse this newfound power by giving low evaluation scores to those instructors/professors that have fallen out of their favor. This of course does not necessarily mean that students give low evaluation scores to only those faculty members who are weak as teachers. After all, there are those professionals who do have good research records and are amply qualified for the job but are simply not suitable as lecturers at the university level due to their unsatisfactory teaching techniques, and it’s imperative to make the distinction clear. Rather, it is slowly becoming the trend that at least a considerable number of our students give low scores to those professors/instructors who give students low grades based on low levels of course performance.

Essentially, those lecturers who regularly give students their grades for tests and assignments, during the course of the semester, are at a higher risk of receiving lower evaluation scores than their colleagues who only give students their grades at the end of the semester. This is because students cannot access their final grades until the student evaluations of their instructors/professors have been completed and by the time they realize that their lecturers have given them low grades, it is too late for lower performing students to devalue their evaluations of the lecturers in question as a means of retribution.

Lecturers are adapting to the system as it evolves, in a collective effort, to improve their chances of being rehired. Consequently the seemingly necessary defense mechanism of not giving regular progress reports to students at Korean universities is clearly working against the students since students are getting fewer chances to know what areas they need to improve in for the remainder of the semester. In effect, this goes against the initiative to offer ‘quality instruction’ on many levels.

As for the classes that aren’t based on the relative grading system, students know full well that all of them can be given an A grade and students do, for the most part, expect lecturers to give them As. Those lecturers who refrain from handing out A grades, as though they were Christmas cards, tend to develop unfavorable reputations and may consequently receive lower evaluation scores from the next group of students taking their courses or may have fewer students sign up for elective classes taught by them. This trend persuades lecturers to give students a higher proportion of outstanding grades rather effortlessly in courses taken at Korean universities, when compared to grades given by instructors at higher ranked universities. The comparison can easily be made by ‘foreign students and professors’, as well as local students who have studied at universities abroad.

In the case of faculty members who still opt to give students their progress reports, should they not give the majority of their students favorable grades on their reports, even if the students do not deserve those grades, they would certainly run the risk of receiving low student evaluation scores at the end of the semester. This may even lead to excellent instructors failing to be rehired for the subsequent contract term.

What is perhaps the most troubling in all of this is that Korean universities are no longer shrouded in secrecy. As a matter of fact, there is a great deal of frank discussions among faculty members and students in openly comparing educational standards between institutions on the World Wide Web. What is more, faculty members will at times write stories of students abusing their newfound power at certain universities, while students may write on blogs about how relatively easy it is to attain A grades in their courses. Fundamentally, this era of information and technology has produced wormholes that instantaneously carry both useful and harmful information worldwide. In this way, the Internet makes Korean universities, as well as all other universities, like glass cathedrals that have highly transparent walls, making it crucial for institutions to offer quality instruction to their students every step of the way.

Taking Global university rankings into consideration, the 2010 methodology of the Times Higher Education (THE) University Rankings for instance specifically states that 15% of the weighing is based on a ‘Reputational survey – teaching’ and 19.5% of the weighing is based on a ‘Reputational survey – research’. In essence, numerous researchers and professors worldwide are asked by THE to fill out the respective reputational surveys which are in turn used to rank universities. Potentially, any professional filling out the surveys, having been made aware of insufficient teaching standards at a specific university, will likely give unfavorable evaluations for that university. Even if it is only the reputational survey on teaching that is taken into consideration, as little as a 5% drop in the weighing, due to unsatisfactory standards of education, can account for a for a drop in the rankings by as much as 50 places for any given university.

With this information in mind, it should not be farfetched to conclude that, the dissemination of information pertaining to any potential abuse of student evaluations, which tends to indirectly lower the quality of the overall education offered at a university, will undoubtedly go far in damaging the reputation of the university and thus having a negative effect on its international ranking in future years to come.

While, the ranking of a university may not have much of a bearing on faculty salaries, it does have a substantial impact on the salaries university graduates can expect to get once in the workforce. After all, employers are more likely to hire alumni from top ranked universities for the senior positions that evidently come with higher salaries. Taken as a whole, this whole concept is not that absurd considering that Harvard University, ranked number one in the world, boasts the highest number of billionaires among its Alumni.

Consequently, all Korean university students should at one time or another realize that any abuse of their power may result in short term gains (a higher GPA average) at the potential expense of a lifetime of monetary losses in terms of reduced salaries once in the workforce.

The chief aim of this article is to help Korean universities climb in the rankings so that graduates could have better opportunities in life. I’m hoping to provide a chance for students to take their long term futures into their own hands and help faculty members offer higher quality education for the prospects of a brighter future for all KU graduates. In essence, students should use their newfound power with care and ought to refrain from evaluating lecturers on a purely subjective basis.

Perhaps this could also be an opportunity for KU to change its heavy reliance on student evaluations when it comes to resigning faculty. This is not to say that student evaluations should be eliminated, but rather that they ought to be accompanied by other forms of evaluations. For instance, faculty evaluating other faculty could be considered in the future to come.

Steve Kang, Chancellor of The University of California, Merced, stated the following in an interview with JoongAng Ilbo, on Saturday, July 3rd 2010, as advice to Korean universities to become more competitive on a Global scale:

“The faculty evaluation system in which professors assess their fellow professors should be actively adopted in Korea. In the United States, faculty evaluations are given great weight when making tenure decisions and promotions.”

Chancellor Kang had made a remarkable turnaround for UC Merced, since his appointment, thus there are important lessons to be learnt from the Chancellor’s advice. Simply put, one must not take his recommendation for granted.

Overall, it is true that student evaluations have a lot to tell about the quality of instructors’ teaching techniques at a university, and Chancellor Kang has stated just that in the interview:

“Negative student evaluations send a serious warning to professors. I know that some people criticize student evaluations as nothing more than a popularity contest, but based on my experience, they are a rather accurate index of the quality of lecturers.”

Of course it goes without saying that student evaluations can only be accurate evaluative tools if they are made up of criteria, all of which require a high degree of objectivity while scoring. Accordingly, all hints of subjectivity need to be removed from every criterion in the evaluation system if it is to produce truly useful results and students must ensure that they abstain from using it as a means of vengeance for getting low progress results.

All things considered, a momentous predicament occurs when certain students artificially devalue a lecturer’s evaluation scores because of receiving low progress grades from the lecturer. For this reason, other forms of evaluative tools should accompany student evaluations to ensure that students are prevented from being provided with sufficient power so as to be influential enough that they could essentially degenerate the overall quality of instruction at any one particular university for the simple hope of short term personal gains.

 

 

***At least when it comes to non-tenured foreign professors/instructors, most tend to be unaware of the exact nature of their job security with regard to their terms employment at a South Korean university.***

 
 
 



Academic Essays and Education Magazine Articles



1) Jambor, Paul Z., 'Favourable Teaching Approaches in the South Korean Post Secondary Classroom', Department of Education - The United States of America: Educational Resources Information Center, 2009

2) Jambor, Paul Z., 'Teaching Context: "Synthetic and Analytic Syllabuses" in a South Korean University Setting' Department of Education - The United States of America: Educational Resources Information Center, March 31, 2006

3) Jambor, Paul Z., 'The Changing Dynamics of PhDs and the Future of Higher Educational Development in Asia and the Rest of the World' Department of Education - The United States of America: Educational Resources Information Center, September 26, 2009

4) Jambor, Paul Z., 'Why South Korean Universities Have Low International Rankings - Part II: The Student Side of the Equation', Academic Leadership: Volume 7 - Issue 3, August 10, 2009

5) Jambor, Paul Z., 'Why South Korean Universities Have Low International Rankings', Academic Leadership: Volume 7 - Issue 1, February 20, 2009

6) Jambor, Paul Z., The Reluctance of Korean Education in The Face of Change, Academic Leadership: The Online Journal (Volume 8; Issue 3)

7) Jambor, Paul Z., 'Sexism, Ageism and Racism Prevalent Throughout the South Korean System of Education' Department of Education - The United States of America: Educational Resources Information Center, 2009

8) Jambor, Paul Z., 'LEARNER ATTITUDES TOWARD LEARNER CENTERED EDUCATION AND ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE IN THE KOREAN UNIVERSITY CLASSROOM',The University of Birmingham: CELS, March 2007

9) Jambor, Paul Z., 'Teaching Methodology in a 'Large Power Distance' Classroom: A South Korean Context', Department of Education - The United States of America: Educational Resources Information Center, 2010

10:a) Jambor, Paul Z., 'Slide and prejudice', Times Higher Education, December 10, 2009

10:b) Jambor, Paul Z., 'South Korea: Pay discrimination fallout', Education World - The Human Development Magazine, February 5, 2010 (Excerpted and adapted from 'Slide and Prejudice’ - THE)

11) Jambor, Paul Z., Lingua Frankly, Times Higher Education, February 11, 2010

12) Jambor, Paul Z., Protectionism in South Korean Universities, Academic Leadership, 2010 Spring Edition)

13) Jambor, Paul Z. 'English Language Imperialism: Points of View', Journal of English as an International Language, April 2007 - Volume 1, pages 103-123

14) Jambor, Paul Z. 'The Foreign English Teacher a Necessary Danger in South Korea', Department of Education - The United States of America: Educational Resources Information Center, 20

Education, The United States of America: Educational Resources Information Center,

2012

16) Jambor, Paul Z., 'English Language Necessity: What It means for Korea and Non-English Speaking Countries',Department of Education - The United States of America: Educational Resources Information Center, 2012

 

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