|▲"Diversity of International Students in Nationality", "Reputation", and "Professors' Research" categories showed dramatic decrease in rankings compare to 2014, while Open "Online Lectures" category kept its first place.|
The overall rankings of university evaluation by Joongang Ilbo
The university evaluation system used by Joonang Ilbo changed its index of evaluation this year. In 2014, the total score of the evaluation index was 300 and the rating categories were divided up into “Conditions of Education,” “Globalization,” “Professor Research,” and “Reputation.” Each section accounted for 90, 50, 100, and 60 points respectively out of 300. “Conditions of Education” included items such as the rate of securing professors, accommodation of dormitory, scholarship, educational expenses, and spending on book materials. “Globalization” contained subcategories such as the percentage of foreign professors, international students, exchange students, and English lectures. “Professor Research” included items showed research expenses, the number of scholarly publications, and the extent of intellectual property rights. Finally, “Reputation” was an indication of how many would choose to enroll in Dongguk, and the potential for the future development of the university. Dongguk had ranked at 22nd, 3rd, 17th, and 15th in each section.
However, there was a change in the evaluation section of 2015. In 2015, the total score of evaluation index became 400, and the rating categories are “Conditions of Education,” “Student Education Efforts and Result,” “Professor Research,” and “Reputation.” Each section accounted for 150, 80, 110, and 60 out of 400. The “Globalization” section was removed, and a category called “Student Education Efforts and Result,” which rated conditions of employment rate, entrepreneurship education, and K-OCW (Open Course Ware) has been newly added. This year, Dongguk got 21st, 6th, 25th, and 27th place in each section.
The purpose of these changes of the evaluation index was to accommodate the current realities of university education. Chun In-sung, the head of University Ranking Project from Joonang Ilbo, said, “It is more appropriate to reduce the percentage of Globalization because of the overall improvement of Globalization of universities in Korea. Also, the addition of “Student Education Efforts and Result” is to reflect students’ demands on universities.”
According to the data mentioned above, the main causes for the decline of Dongguk University’s rankings are the slump in the ranking of “Reputation” section and the decrease in the ratio of “Globalization.”
The slump in the ranking of reputation
Dongguk University saw its ranking fall from 15th to 27th in the “Reputation” section just in a year. The “Reputation” section covers nine indexes, such as “Universities that are preferred among recruits,” “Universities promoting education necessary for business,” “Universities that are specialized,” “Universities that are good at educating students,” “Universities that are preferred and recommended to enter,” “Universities that are preferred to donate to,” “Universities that have potential for development,” “Universities contributing to the nation,” and “Universities contributing to the whole community.” It is also calculated through the survey of opinion poll targeting human resources managers in government ministries and in major companies in Korea, faculty members in universities, and high school teachers. Therefore, it tells how outsiders appreciate a certain university.
The Council of Professors at Dongguk mentioned that the drop in the ranking of reputation is due to the continuous conflict between the school and students on the issue of presidential election and board of directors. Professor Han Man-soo, the chairperson of the council of professors, said, “When I attend a conference, professors from other universities express concerns about problems related to the president and the board of directors in Dongguk.”
Regarding this matter, a staff member who wanted to be identified as “H” at Office of Strategic Planning & Evaluation Practice said, “The placing in the rank in this year is pretty much the same with that of the last year, apart from the reputation section. Also, appointed professors are included among the subjects of the poll in the reputation section from this year. Therefore, the section lacks objectivity.”
The reduction of the proportion of the “Globalization” section
Another cause of the drop in the Joongang Ilbo university rankings is the decreased portion of the Globalization section as an appraisal standard. Dongguk University was relatively placed high in the Globalization category in 2014, achieving 3rd place out of all Korean universities. In 2014, the Globalization section contained six subcategories: the ratio of foreign professors, the number of foreign students who registered for academic degrees, exchange students who were sent abroad or visited the school, English lectures, and the range of nationalities of foreign students. Also, this section accounted for about 50 out of 300(1/6). Especially, Dongguk took first place in the ratio of English lectures. However, in 2015, the “Globalization” section was eliminated and four subcategories among six were integrated into “Conditions of Education” section. In addition, items concerned with the rate of English lectures were removed and subcategories showing Globalization were reduced to only 40 points out of 400 (1/10). Therefore, Dongguk could not demonstrate its capability through the Globalization index anymore.
One of the weak points appeared through the interpretation of the data above is the lack of diversity of foreign students in nationality. In 2014, Dongguk was ranked at 23rd in the subcategory of the variety of foreign students in nationality, whereas other items such as the ratio of exchange students who were sent abroad and visited the school was 5th and 8th in each part. This phenomenon has continued this year. In 2015, Dongguk was ranked outside of the top 40 in the variety of foreign students in nationality category.
Other categories that showed decrease
The problems can be seen more distinctively when comparing Dongguk to other universities in Korea. Pusan National University has also showed a rise, ranking in 12th place this year, which was 6 places higher than in 2014. Lim Jae-hyun from the Office of Planning and Evaluation at Pusan University said that the school is paying much attention to the professors’ research results. “These kinds of continuous care and efforts were made to improve the university, which were the key to the satisfying outcome,” Lim said, “Our school pursues a systematic process and detailed investigation.”
In 2015, Dongguk took 36th place in the “Amount of Scholarship given compared to Tuition Fee,” which is 10 ranks lower than in 2014, and lower than 40th place in “Rate of Dormitory Accommodation” both among the “Conditions of Education” categories. The “Professor Research” category indicated similar results. “Research Funds for Professors” rank has dropped from 1st to 23rd place; “Incomes from Transfer of Technology” ranked lower than 40th place, and only 37th place in “Incomes from Industry Cooperation of each Science-Technology professor.”
A freshman from the Department of Administration Kim Jin-hyung said that school needs more improvements. “I know that school has been making efforts,” Kim illustrated, “however, by comparing results of 2014 and 2015, I cannot help thinking that Dongguk University has just focused on high ranks.”
Staff member H at the Office of Strategic Planning & Evaluation Practice stressed that the school is planning for the better. “We were also surprised to see the result,” he said, “A briefing session about future plans from each department will take place. Then more specific plans will be settled for next year’s evaluation.” H added that students do not have to be worried about the result, since this year was actually advantageous to the local universities, which were given additional points. “We will find better plans and solutions, and solve out the problems we are facing,” H concluded.
Strengths & improvements from the school
Dongguk University has been making improvements every year. However, the efforts were mostly focused on the globalization of the university. In 2014’s evaluation, Dongguk ranked in 2nd place for having foreign students who registered for academic degrees, and 8th place for the rate of exchange students to Dongguk. However, the diversity of foreign students took 23rd place. Even in 2015, the rank in diversity was downgraded to lower than 40th place.
Meanwhile, the English lecture system is also known as another problem related to tha Globalization. Dongguk University had the highest rank in “The Rate of English Lectures” last year, but a lot of students have complained about English lectures in school, criticizing the availability and quality of English lectures at school. This was because even though some of lectures went along with English textbooks, the lecture itself was mostly in Korean. In turn, international students brought up problems with English lectures and pointed out that Dongguk is maybe not yet fully reached to become a truly globalized university.
A sophomore from the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism Yang Hye-in showed a skeptical view towards the result. “I think the main reason our school could rank in 11th place in 2014 was the globalization category. Without it, the rest of categories ranked low.” Yang said that the overall rank should not be considered seriously. “This is just an evaluation conducted by mass media. However, what I was disappointed about was the specific categories. Scholarship, dormitory, research and so on seem to need a lot of improvements.”
On the other hand, Dongguk ranked high in several categories including “Student Education Efforts and Result,” which recorded 6th place. Moreover, the school ranked in the highest place in “Online Open Lectures,” which indicates that the school has been actively providing open lectures and lecture materials, called OCW (Open Course Ware).
Dongguk University’s OCW currently has about 300 online open lectures and 30 professors enrolled in the program. Jung Min-ho, a research professor at Center for Teaching & Learning explained that the main reason why Dongguk University is gaining ground in online lecture part is the active participations from professors. “We provide about 500,000 won to professors, which is relatively a small amount compared to other universities which provide about 2,500,000 won,” Jung said, “Nevertheless, professors are very positive about the online open lecture programs.” According to Jung, the center made several efforts to encourage professors’ participations. “We have held workshops about online open lecture programs to provide information, or meet each professor one by one,” Jung said. “Furthermore, Dongguk University has its own OCW shooting team, which allows videos to be edited in the way professors want, and also guarantee their quality,” Jung concluded. For further development, Jung suggested that the school also needs to invest its budget on K-MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), since it now has higher possibility to be successfully activated than K-OCW.
The Joongang Ilbo’s University Evaluation is not an absolute indicator. Apart from rankings and evaluations, a school that does not prioritize from external assessments, but rather considers each student’s capability, excellent faculty, and stable administrative process, is undoubtedly a good educational venue. However, the evaluation results showed how Dongguk University had focused on superficial statistics. This proves that the school was elatively unaware of significant factors beneath the surface. This year, the “Globalization,” a single hope, was deleted from main categories, leading to the confrontation of a big hole in Dongguk University’s strategy. Rather than putting stress on outside image or unbalanced growth, developments that emphasize diversity and balance, though steady and slow, will one day put the school in the absolute highest rank.
Choi Young-eun, You Eun-sun firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
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