“I do not understand why I should be forced to take another course in English when I had already taken enough courses required for graduation. What is even worse is that I have to pay to take the course which I do not feel necessary,” Kim Shin-bee, a Junior in the Major in Political Science and Diplomacy, expressed her thoughts while
preparing for the foreign student exchange program in the upcoming fall semester.
The foreign student exchange program is popular among university students, as the program gives them a chance to go abroad and study foreign languages as well as earn credits while studying at the university they are dispatched to. According to a survey conducted by The Hanyang Journal, 61 percent of the respondents replied they have applied, or are planning to apply for the foreign exchange student program of Hanyang University(HYU).
However, for those who plan to go on the foreign student exchange program during the fall semester, they are required to take a minimum of three credits of International Summer School, a program promoted by the Office of International Cooperation(OIC). For this reason, Hanyangians who have applied for the foreign student exchange program are filing complaints on the requirement for which they must pay extra tuition.
The Required Program for Foreign Exchange Students
The International Summer School program offers English-only courses to foreign exchange students in HYU and Hanyangians during the Summer Vacation period, through the end of June to end of July. The International Summer School is intended to provide English courses to foreign exchange students in HYU as well as to train Hanyangians who will be going abroad to adapt to English-speaking environments. The tuition fee of the program is 100,000 Won per credit, so a minimum of 300,000 Won is required to take the courses at the International Summer School.
Hanyangians who are selected to go abroad for foreign student exchange program of OIC are required to take at least one course from the International Summer School program . If a Hanyangian fails to take the program, he or she is disqualified from the opportunity of being a foreign exchange student. However, the program is only required for those who go on a foreign exchange program to English-speaking countries or to European countries during the fall semester, and those who are not relevant to the above circumstances can be exempted from the requirement.
Preparation for Foreign Exchange Program
According to OIC, the reason Hanyangians are required to take the courses of International Summer School is to enable them to adapt well at the foreign university they will be sent to. In terms of “adapting well,” it has two aspects: adapting well academically and socially. Adapting well academically means the ability to diligently listen to English courses at the university Hanyangians are sent to, and adapting well socially indicates the ability to maintain good relations with local students as well as adjusting to cultural differences.
Training Hanyangians to adapt well in new environments is intended for allowing opportunities to go on foreign exchange student programs for Hanyangians who will go abroad in the future. “The foreign student exchange program is a mutual agreement between universities to exchange students at a one to one ratio. Naturally, the dispatched students would come to represent the university they are from. Therefore, if one student from HYU fails to adapt at the university abroad and dismisses him or herself from class or acquire bad grades, the university that agreed to accept our students will come to doubt the education quality of HYU. Thus, it will make maintaining mutual agreements of exchanging students difficult,” said Kim Bo-kyung, an Assistant Manager of OIC. “To prevent this kind of mishap, we are making International Summer School mandatory. Also, as the number of foreign exchange students of HYU has increased about ten times, it is our duty to maintain long-term mutual relations with the foreign universities in order to give the Hanyangians the chance to go abroad as a foreign exchange student,” Kim added.
Having a Choice is Better
Despite the OIC’s intentions for making International Summer School mandatory, it still causes a problem among Hanyangians who are planning to go on foreign exchange programs during the fall semester. Since taking International Summer School requires a minimum tuition fee of 300,000 Won, some feel financially burdened in taking these courses. According to the survey conducted by The HJ, 73 percent of Hanyangians replied that foreign exchange programs should not force students to take International Summer School.
Some Hanyangians expressed displeasure at the fact that they are required to take courses which they do not want or need, while being charged for it. Although OIC claimed they have lowered the tuition fee as they much as they possibly could, it still comes as a burden for Hanyangians. “As the purpose of making International Summer School mandatory for Hanyangians is to help them adapt to foreign school environments, I was not in need for these courses. I would rather prepare for other things before going on the foreign exchange program,” said Kim Jae-kyeong, a Junior in the Department of English Language and Literature who had high school education in New Zealand.
In addition, some Hanyangians expressed their doubts on whether International Summer School could actually help Hanyangians to adapt to foreign school environments. Kim Somin, a Junior in the Major in Political Science and Diplomacy, said, “I do not get how just taking academic courses for one month in English is the way of experiencing foreign culture. If students can adapt to different culture by just taking English courses for a month, then I think most students can adapt well, since they have already taken English courses in order to fill graduation requirements.”
Flexibility Is the Key
Although the International Summer School program is running on good intentions, Hanyangians are dissatisfied because of its obligatory nature. The key is to run the program with flexibility. Even though OIC has a system which exempts Hanyangians from taking the course when a formal statement of reasons are handed in, in reality, only internships can qualify.
Therefore, the International Summer School courses should be recommended only to Hanyangians who feel the need to take the courses, instead of being imposed on them.