Change can sometimes be very difficult. Such an effort requires thorough planning and a desire to achieve. This wave of change is heading straight toward private universities. At several private universities, the administration offices are trying to restructure. The restructuring has given rise to sharp conflicts among the universities' administrations, these students, and these faculty. The restructuring is making a commotion within the universities.
What Is Restructuring?
As previously mentioned, private universities announced the restructuring plans for the sake of universities' competitiveness. Typically, restructuring involves the reorganization of colleges. The reorganization is the so-called 'Business Way Reorganization.' Chung-Ang University (CAU) is at the center of the greatest controversy. In December 2009, CAU administration announced that it would carry out a reformation of almost half of the colleges installed in Seoul and Ansung Campus. The restructuring has been planned since the Doosan Cooperation started to support the university.
The university plans to reduce the number of existing colleges from 18 to 10, and the number of departments from 77 to 46. Park Yong-sung, the president of CAU, was very determined at his inauguration. "I will change everything about CAU but its name," said Park in the inauguration speech in 2008. He added that CAU emphasized practical studies. With this restructuring, CAU aims to nurture three or four competitive departments in each college, and the university will train students for developing society. "There are currently too many colleges at CAU. Also, at Ansung Campus, there are also too many departments which are similar to departments at the Seoul Campus. So, the administration thought an environment for investment can be made by merging," said a high-ranking official on CAU's Planning Team.
Several other universities, including Sookmyung Women's University, Dongguk University, and Konkuk University are planning to restructure their programs.
Development for Competition or Keeping Freedom of Studies
Most of the universities carrying out restructuring have a common purpose. Administrations have the goal to make competitive divisions. Students are not always pleased with those goals.
Students and professors complain about the restructuring. At CAU's Seoul Campus, there was a large scale movement by the General Students?Association (GSA). They occupied the chancellor's office and climbed up to the Han River's bridges and cranes. Students and professors who wanted to save their departments shook placards and shouted that they oppose CAU's restructuring policy. CAU took disciplinary action against six students who participated in the movement. The GSA is in a crisis because of this. "It seemed so pitiful that students including GSA members camped out to block their departments from being reorganized. I cannot understand the school's reaction. Why does the planning team neglect students' intentions?" said Kang Yoo-ri, a Freshman in the Department of English Education in CAU.
At Sookmyung Women's University, there was also an intense movement opposing the reorganization of colleges. The most controversial agenda was about the restructuring of the School of Business. Owing to the resistance of students, the problem was seemingly solved by delaying the plan for a year. "I think the planning team's decisions were made without asking the students' opinions. Schools should not make plans on their own. They should gather students and faculties' opinions before the restructuring," said Kim Ga-young, a Sophomore of Sookmyung Women's University, criticizing the planning teams' reaction.
However, not all students are opposed to the planning teams' restructuring outlook. They insist that the school needs restructuring for development, and the restructuring will not damage the school's reputation. Kang Kyung-soo, the leader of the GSA at CAU's Ansung Campus has a different stance from the GSA of Seoul Campus. "The GSA of Seoul Campus only speaks for a few students. Also, their ways of resisting are too violent and sensitive. Such reactions tend to provoke some students." Also, some interviewees pointed out the effectiveness of restrictions. "If they disapprove of the restructuring, what is their alternative? The movement only delays the development of the university. I think that people do not have any interests in their movements including myself. What I want to say to the GSA members is to just pay attention in studying," answered Lee Hyun-ji, Sophomore at Hanguk University of Foreign Studies, when asked about restructuring.
Offices of the universities try to convince resistant students that most students agree with the reorganization. "Each person's recognition of restructuring is different. For example, the Division of Language and Literature in Ansung Campus is not disappearing. It is combined with Seoul Campus's division. Some people think it is just abolished. It is a combination and abolition," a leader of the Planning Team in CAU said. Also, the administration of Sookmyung Women? University explained that they collected each college? opinions. "We exerted the maximum amount of effort to gather opinions. So, the first plan for the reorganization 19 to 15 colleges and six to 32 departments, was adjusted. The administration decided to decrease by two more undergraduate disciplines and one more department. The plan was passed by the school administration committee except for the case of the School of Business. So it is literally impossible to convert the primary plan," said Kim Ae-hee.
What Is Restructuring Without Pain?
So, is there a solution that will be satisfactory to everyone? What plans should the university refer to? As the leader of the Planning Team at CAU has mentioned, most people agreed with the private universities?ew order. However, experts identified the university's problematic plan as the main reason why the restructuring has become such a controversial issue. "University is not only the place for education, but also a public organization. So, University cannot be measured by only effectiveness. It does not make any sense that the university does not have diversity. Students may change the components of a large company," said Chang Duk-jin, an associate professor of the Department of Sociology at Seoul National University.
As a solution, some experts have suggested that a desirable method for reorganization is to develop an academic community. Experts insist that most of Korea's private universities are too busy showing their superiority. So, they emphasize a fruitful revolution that all people can be satisfied by. For instance, universities can set up more cultural studies instead of restructuring practical subjects. Or, universities can give information to students for preparing for the life after retirement. "Large private companies are those who provide job training," said Chang.
Also, there is a possible solution that the school should make an effort to provide a research environment through restructuring. Chang Duk-jin added, "Most university professors have to deal with administrative tasks. In this environment, it is a contradiction that a university expects high quality research and education from the professors. It could be more desirable that the administration employs more administrative employees in order to create competitive university town." "Some students at my school feel irritated to see our work site being broken down. However, some students must be patient for the sake of CAU. We are waiting for good results to be announced by the administration's planning team soon," said Kang Kyung-soo, the leader of the GSA in CAU's Ansung Campus.
Like Kang says, CAU needs more progress to reorganize the school's system. Although the change of the school's system is over, the administration has to determine plans for recruiting new students, and making new curricula.
Will their restructuring be succesful in making a new university order? Or, will the restructuring degrade the functions of private universities? Universities and students alike are watching with great interest.