Stanford University, MIT, Harvard University, Oxford University, Peking University, and the University of Tokyo. These are universities at which students want to study due to their prestigious reputation, superior educational programs and scholastic environment.
Moreover, it seems that the tendency in our society requiring high level of scholastic attainment is pushing more and more students to study abroad at these and other universities.
This trend can be seen in the wider context of Korea’s economic and social development. Korea lacks raw materials compared to other developed countries. Therefore, the main way to catch up with them economically is focusing on high-tech, new-tech, and value-added industries, which in turn requires the development of human resources.
It is worth noting in this regard that the Ministry of Finance and Economy recently deregulated Korea’s education system and set up Designated Areas for International Education. The reason for this was to help the country to focus on strengthening its manpower in competition with other countries.
For example, Incheon which has been selected as a ‘Free Trade Zone’ is trying to attract leading international universities like Stanford and MIT to set up research facilities. Gyeonggi-do province is also preparing to designate English-language towns within its borders. Meanwhile, many officials in both the public and private sector are working hard to take further steps in globalization.
Consequently, universities in Korea generally, are making every effort to give their students a competitive edge on the international stage. The UOS is making such efforts, helping its faculties and students to compete internationally in the various fields. So in this edition of The UOS Times, we have included some information on the means by which the UOS has been striving to become more internationalized.
International Summer Camp
The UOS International Summer Camp is an international event that invites about 24 ~ 28 students to our school from universities outside Korea and giving them an opportunity to experience and get to know Korean culture. This event has been held by the UOS for the past four years including this year, 2003. Foreign students who participate in this event have the chance to take 7 different courses on Korean language, history and culture, to experience Korean traditions in Yejiwon, and to learn Taekwondo.
In addition, they not only get to look around city of Seoul but also have an inspection tour of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. Such programs are meaningful to students who are not familiar with Korea beyond its name. Certainly, these programs are a better way to inform people about our country and our culture than simple sightseeing.
Not only the international visitors but also the helper students from the UOS have benefited from this program. Through this kind of event, the helpers have had the opportunity to talk and spend time with foreign students. Surely it is a rare opportunity for Korean students to meet foreign students, make friends with them, and improve their English all at the same time.
Over the past 4 years, around 100 students from 13 universities in 7 different countries including China, Japan, and Mongolia have had the chance to get to know about Korean culture and the UOS through the camp. This year, 24 students from 11 universities in 4 different countries visited Korea.
Students who participated in the camp evaluated it positively, since they got to learn Korean systemically, as they had wanted to, as well as about other aspects of Korea, like worldwide Taekwondo which is originated in Korea. In the case of the students from the UOS, it is the human touch with the students from other countries that have made this event so valuable for them.
In order to develop and upgrade the International Summer Camp, which is now in its fourth year, there are a few issues that first need to be dealt with and solved.
First of all, our school needs to publicize the camp better among the students of the UOS. Although the International Summer Camp is a great opportunity to learn about and experience other cultures without needing to buy a plane ticket, the participation rate has not been very high. This year was no exception. 24 students were accepted out of only 28 volunteers. This unfortunate situation seems to occur because it took place during the vacation and many students did not even know the camp was being held.
Another problem relates to accommodation. Right now, the UOS does not have a dormitory, so the school contracted 4 apartments from outside the school to accommodate the foreign students, but there still was not enough room. In an effort to solve this problem, the school has been using home stay system, but this has not been a good solution due to the low level of interest among the UOSians. Therefore, until the day the UOS has its own dormitory, there will be a continuing need for more accommodation.
Finally, another problem relates to the range of invited nations at the camp. Even taking into account the fact that the UOS had to exclude students from China due to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), the invited students nationalities were not varied. They came mostly from Asian countries.
So in order to represent Korea to the world better, and to help the UOSians experience a greater diversity of cultures, students from a wider variety of countries should be considered, especially countries in Europe and North America.
The main goal of the International Summer Camp should be to help the UOSians to know the world better.
Visible features of the event, such as superior facilities and various courses are important, but above all, to be an internationally representative event for the UOS, the students should take part in the camp with more interest. For this purpose, there should be more courses on cross-cultural understanding. And students should be encouraged to seek out these events and get involved in them. To make this event more meaningful, it requires both the school officials and the students’ continuous interest and participation.
our Team of Study Abroad
The summer vacation has become even more fantastic for the UOSians. Since 2001, the UOS has been sending around 500 students to Europe, giving each person 1,000,000 won for traveling expenses. This program is called the ‘Tour Team of Study Abroad,’ and every sophomore and junior at the UOS are super-keen to get the money and to travel around Europe. The aim of this event is to promote the UOSians’ skills and experiences, and ultimately help form themselves into effective members of society. Up until last year, the UOS selected the lucky students through its own internal tests, but the UOS selects 500 students from this year using their TOEIC, TOEFL, and TEPS scores.
Every year, the UOS presents 1,000,000 won to each privileged student. One may think it is not much money but adding it all together; the UOS has provided 500,000,000 won every year just to allow students to travel! But, of course, after the trip, students are required to write reports on the topics: [Memories from my trip] and [Good models to apply to our society]. Selected reports are then turned into a full-color book titled ‘The Collected Memoirs of the UOS International Study Tour Team,’ which can also be used as a way to promote our school’s reputation. The Tour Team of Study Abroad happens during the summer vacation and there is no time limitation of duration, but for the event of any kinds of emergency, the school requires each team to include at least 3 ~ 5 members.
An organizer of this event said, “The Tour Team of Study Abroad is a good way to raise students the sense of globalization and help them to get to know the world better.” and added, “We are hoping to raise more money for the program.” Shin, Dong-won, Sophomore, Dept. of Electronic & Computer Engineering, who traveled to 10 countries in Europe last July was very positive about the event, saying “Through this trip, I had a chance to broaden my outlook and to reflect on myself.” Since the 2002 FIFA WORLD CUP KOREA-JAPAN, the need for globalization has continued to grow. And through such programs the UOS may also encourage other universities to become more globalized.
The UOS is planning ways to make every aspect of the Tour Team of Study Abroad more meaningful and important. In particular, the officials are considering expanding the choice of travel destination beyond Europe to include China, Japan, and the U.S. (which had been excluded because of the risk of terrorism).
They also have a plan to change the selection process from TOEIC, TOEFL and TEPS scores. Although nothing concrete has been decided, the officials will continue to encourage students to see and learn more about the world. In the mean time, there is also a possibility that this program will be changed into a theme-focused trip, allowing students to learn more about particular fields.
Along with all the good points of this program, there remains a significant concern about the students safety. Up until now, there has been a team of the UOS professors who are ready to deal with any unforeseen circumstances. However, to cover the whole European continents, one team for certain period does not seem to be enough. In addition, the students who actually travel abroad should be thoroughly prepared to make their trip. Thus, they should make a detailed itinerary and study program before taking off.
nternational Exchange & Student Exchange Programs. International Exchange is one of the projects that the UOS emphasizes. Starting with the University of Akron in 1986, 13 universities in 7 countries have signed exchange agreements with the UOS.
These have involved active interchange, including the exchange of professors, students, staffs, researches, and the hosting of joint seminars. In 2001, the UOS concluded an agreement with the National University of Mongolia, and as a result, about 10 students are exchanged with that of university every year.
A similar agreement has been signed with the National University of Moscow. In particular, the UOS is working on a three-way exchange agreement with the City University of New York (CUNY) and the Tokyo Metropolitan University, in an attempt to broaden students view of the world.
In the future, the UOS will continue to promote exchange agreements with an increasing number of universities. At present, Tokyo Gakugei University, Yokohama National University, and Hiroshima Women’s University have signed to exchange students with the UOS. Every year, about 15 ~ 20 students come from foreign countries and about 15 UOS students go abroad through these exchange programs.
Seoul National University has concluded academic exchange agreements with 46 universities in 19 countries. This year about 55 students have gone as exchange students to 25 universities in 13 countries.
Meanwhile, Daejeon University, which celebrates its 23rd anniversary this year, offers the opportunity of studying abroad (at 26 universities in 9 countries, including the U.S, Canada, Japan and China) to 100 students every year. To date over 500 students have gone to foreign universities as exchange students.
In addition, Konkuk University has concluded agreements with 50 universities in 13 countries and sent 50 students to 7 universities in 3 countries including the U.S. Also a homepage called ‘International Center’ has been established and have been providing information about studying abroad, on issues ranging from visas to writing follow-up reports.
The UOS is hoping that by the end of this year it will be able to exchange students with Tokyo Metropolitan University, whose urban studies faculty is particularly renowned. And soon, the UOS is planning to exchange students and credits with the City University of New York.
However, there are still some issues that need to be resolved before signing these agreements.Right now all the schools that have exchange agreements with the UOS are in Asia.
If we see international exchange as a chance for further study in one’s field and an opportunity to experience a new culture, restricting the choice of nations will hinder students’ opportunities to experience the wider world. Therefore, it is essential that we shift sights to universities in western countries including Europe and America, which are not necessarily world-famous, but specialized in particular fields.
Along with this, the number of exchange students should be increased. At the moment only 15 students a year can go abroad on international exchange. More the UOSians should have the opportunity to go abroad to study their field further and more foreign students should be able to come to the UOS to study our specialized fields.
For this purpose, the UOS needs to have a consultation office for studying abroad, providing students with range of information. In addition, the UOS should have experts in the field of studying abroad who actually come and give lectures about it, giving students the second option besides simply graduating and getting a job.
The UOS should be a leading school of globalization. International Exchange is not a program unrelated to us; it is a necessary service that should be provided for us. To catch the winds of globalization, and to make the UOS into a world leading university, the UOS must develop the system of international exchange in all its aspects and turn it into an even more effective one.
If we look beyond the walls of our own campus, we can see that there are diverse foreign language facilities for students at Seoul National University and Yonsei University, for example. These facilities are used for purposes ranging from academic discussion to language study.
Above all the students in those facilities are not allowed to use any Korean. For example, the ‘Global Lounge’ at Yonsei University, which was established for the cultural exchange between about 2,000 native and foreign students from 50 countries, has a strict rule of sending a student out if they speak Korean more than 3 times, but the students accept it not as a punishment but as a favor to them. In this way, efforts in globalization at other universities are achieving results. We cannot avoid internationalization any more.
It is a very powerful trend throughout the world. As time passes, our doors to the world are opening wider, lots of international people from around the world are coming to Korea and lots of Koreans are going abroad. In response to this, university students have to be nurtured as world leaders. But this is not the responsibility of the university alone.
With the variety of programs available at our school, the UOSians can maximize their potential by themselves if they continue to take the initiative to develop themselves. In the process, they will have the chance to learn about foreign languages, cultures, societies and economies, based on their overall understanding of their own country.