Freshmen students entering university in 2015 are no longer permitted to receive A+ grades for unattended general English classes. In other words, students who hold English certificates such as TOEIC, TOEFL, or IELTS will not be exempt from the general English requirement, and must take general English classes in their freshman year along with students who do not hold these certificates.
From 2013 to 2014, students who scored over 900 in freshmen special heeEnglish exams, or in TOEIC and other English certification tests, were given not only exemption but also grades of A+ for all English general education classes: College English (S), (R), and (W). In 2013, 69 students received this exemption, while 29 received it in 2014. However, the exemption policy faced severe criticism from fellow students who doubted the fairness of the system and the validity of the submitted certificates, arguing that TOEIC does not necessarily verify one,s speaking ability. Taking into account public opinion as well, the University of Seoul (UOS) decided to abolish this system at a staff meeting.
While the majority of students hold that the program should be abrogated, some suggest alternatives. A student who claimed anonymity believes putting students of different English levels in the same class may lead to unfairness in grades and discouragement of those with relatively lower English ability. “It would be best to make a separate class of students with English certificates to foster their learning,” he said. Despite concerns, freshmen English courses seem to be running without apparent difficulties. According to Samuel Parker (Professor of College English Center), the number of high level students this year is so small that there is no noticeable difference from previous semesters, and high level students seem to mingle well with their peers and contribute to learning in all classes.