The Joongang Ilbo was the first press that started a university assessment in 1994. There are two major reasons it began ranking universities. First, there was a necessity to produce some vivid information about private institutions. Second, they hoped to encourage competition in good faith among universities by giving attention to the ability instead of the university’s title only. With such reasons, the assessment contributed to the improvement of university research power and educational condition, which is the basis of the national competitiveness. Fairness and transparency are the main principles of their assessment.
However, a question on the fairness they mentioned and doubt on the achievement of goals should be raised.
In 2013, the Joongang Ilbo university assessment consisted of four criteria: educational conditions, globalization, faculty research, and reputation and student entry into society. There has been a widespread criticism of the first three parts, so what I rather focus on is the fourth criteria- society reputation and student advancement into society.
Because this issude can be subjective, there has to be stable assessment standards. However, for nine years after they made public standards, there has been only two statistically dependable standard: employment rate and potentiality of a university. Even that was changed from ‘university development potential’ to ‘ university which has great potential in development’ in 2007.
Twenty eight kinds of standards have been used for nine years. Unlike before 2005 when standards were not opened, 14 standards were emerged and seven of them were lapsed with using less than four years.
There were even one-time standards like ‘graduates initiative’ and ‘graduates creativeness’ and etc.
From 2010, they used the same standards with little changes in proportion: employment rate, university preference for new employees, university that educates business practice well, university with development potential, university you want to make a donation, and university that gives back well to the society. 750 recruiters answered a questionnaire for the first three things except employment rate, and 350 people in the educational and the art field answered for the last four standards.
Reputation and society entry part accounts for about 20 percent of the university assessment. It shows that the real purpose of the Joongang Ilbo’s university assessment which is to improve research power and educational conditions at universities, is not consistent with the index of the assessment.
This is due to the fact that reputation and society entry part may be subjective. As a result, the assessment is nothing but reorganizing and formulating university ranking based on the prejudice of universities that is spread among people. The Joongang Ilbo tried hard to collect concrete data and use them to open a new prospect of university assessment. However, not much difference can be seen between the Joongang Ilbo’s university assessment and many university ranking charts made from private institutions.
Someone might advocate the Joongang Ilbo’s university assessment saying that it is just an indexing process of society where competition for jobs is already pervasive. I also agree with the assessment if it points out and reveals the reality without any distort. However, university assessment not only exposes a fierce competition, but also aggravates it.
At first, what they intended through the assessment was competition among universities to achieve better educational conditions. Nowadays, however, competition among university students, not universities themselves, is becoming more fierce.
It does not matter whether the Joongang Ilbo assesses universities focusing on employment. There are numerous standards when determining the rankings, so it is their freedom to choose employment as one of the standards. However, the reason why I do not agree with their university assessment is that the cost of their choice is burdensome for not only the universities but also university students. Positive effects of university assessment that they have intended cannot be seen anymore. It is time the Joongang Ilbo look back on how it lines up the univerisities in South Korea where competition seems endless.
Si Yeon-ji firstname.lastname@example.org
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