In the University of Seoul (UOS), the Graduation Certification System (GCS) has been enforced since 2002, which means that the students who entered the university in and after 2002 must achieve the required scores from an authorized English test such as TOEIC and TOEFL; otherwise, they cannot get the academic degree even though they complete their credits.
This system compels students to study English, even to those who may not be interested in learning English. English is becoming the most important feature that guarantees one’s capability. Although one’s English ability can’t be equal to his or her capacity itself, it is hard to ignore the test scores of the English tests.
It is absolutely a good system in that it makes students study English, but I think there are some points about the GCS that needs to be adjusted. First, it is unfair that there are differences in the required scores among colleges.
According to the GCS, the minimum TOEIC requirement of the Humanities College is 585, which also applies to the college of Science and Technology. But the students in the College of Social Science should get at least 650, and the students in the College of Art and Gymnastic, 450.
The field of Humanities is more similar to that of Social Science than that of Science or Technology. And in high schools of Korea, Humanities and Social Science are categorized into one, all into the area of Humanities.
If the students in both colleges are rooted from a same field, I don’t think there would be a reason to differentiate test scores. Second, the minimum requirements of 585 and 650 are very low. Such scores in TOEIC are readily acquired, so it is not making students study English harder.
The Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) has a similar system to GCS. The SKKU¡¯s minimum requirements are generally higher than those of GCS; their minimum TOEIC requirements are 650 to the students of Humanities area and 550 to the students in Science, Art and Gymnastic areas. Moreover, they have raised the minimum requirement to 700 to the students of Humanities who entered in 2004.
I think that UOS¡¯s minimum requirements should be raised to as high as the SKKU’s or other universities’. Finally, GCS is focusing too much only on English. Undoubtedly, English is important, but to some students, especially who are fluent in other languages, may not need English ability. These days, many students also study Chinese and Japanese, and those languages are also highly needed in our society.
So I think that Chinese and Japanese should be an alternative to English. In brief, the GCS at the UOS has several problems such as discrimination between colleges, lower requirement scores, and selecting English as an only target language. GCS can be developed into a very good system if the problems are solved soon. Once the improvements have been made, it is certain that it will definitely contribute to the elevation of the students’ academic level.