“Forcing someone who does not want to enter a corporation to learn about enterprises does not make sense. Moreover, learning leadership through online courses is not helpful at all.” These are the comments of a Junior in the Department of Business Administration at Hanyang University(HYU) who asked for anonymity, pointing out the blind spot of Hanyang Essential Leadership Plus(HELP) program.
HELP is a leadership course that every Hanyangian of Seoul Campus at HYU must take to graduate. It has become a tendency for universities to make some subjects required courses for
graduation. Required courses usually cover basic skills including logical writing and English. However, classes related to leadership and even accounting principles have become obligatory since concepts such as globalization and business have deemed as important since the mid 2000s. HELP was created to teach students about leadership and global business but it has triggered dissatisfaction from students.
The Leadership Education of HYU
The HELP courses that are mandatory for all Hanyangians at Seoul Campus have been individualized for each year: HELP1 for freshmen, HELP2 for sophomores, HELP3 for juniors and HELP4 for seniors. Students turn in assignments, solve quizzes, and take tests using the online platform.
HELP1 is called “Human Leadership” and students are supposed to think what type of leader they should be and how to build suitable mindset as leaders. HELP1 covers leadership in general, covering the history of HYU and different kinds of leaders throughout the world. HELP2 is called “Global Leadership” and consists of lectures about values, visions, and manners ranging from proper attire to table manners, and skills leaders should have. HELP3 is “Business Leadership,” which provides information about finance, entrepreneurship, and managerial abilities
in particular. The course puts emphasis on business in terms of regarding capitalism, economy and finance. HELP4 is “Self Leadership” and it explains how all the information provided in the previous
HELP classes could be personally and effectively utilized. HELP4 also includes detailed tips on daily living in the areas of time management, proper manners, and good habits.
The Hanyang Leadership Learning Guide states, “HYU established the Center for Leadership and Innovation in September 2006, to train and prepare Hanyangians aspiring to be the global CEOs of the next era. It aims to meet the needs of society and corporations, universities and students.” The Center for Leadership and Innovation develops and offers the HELP program to attain these purposes.
HYU Says HELP Is Helpful
HELP is devised to foster students into competent future members of the workforce in the field of global business. Kim Young-chan, a Researcher of the Development Team at the Center for Leadership and Innovation said, “Staff members try to fill HELP with valuable knowledge for all the students attending. While it is true that some parts are focused on business, no one knows for
certain what he or she is going to do in the future. In fact, regardless of their majors, there is a good chance that many of the students will end up working for a company. Thus, HYU wants them to have the necessary basics in advance, and this is why HELP is a compulsory subject.” According to the HYU Public Relations Department, 337 students got into top ten Korean companies such as Samsung and Hyundai in 2012.
HELP provides essential knowledge about leadership for the first place. “Although it might be comparatively more difficult to study leadership online, providing the subject as an offline course is not feasible at the time due to financial constraints. Also, special offline lectures and
teamwork programs are held every year to make up for the insufficiency,” Kim added.
Students Say HELP Is Unhelpful
According to a survey by The Hanyang Journal(The HJ) on 200 Hanyangians at Seoul Campus, 80
percent answered that they were not satisfied with the HELP program for different reasons. An undergraduate in the Department of Composition at HYU whose last name is Choi, said, “Hanyangians already have to obtain four credits by taking liberal arts classes in business and leadership areas for graduation. Therefore, HELP program does not necessarily have to concentrate on business leadership. Instead, the program should offer information of diverse career paths.”
Another complaint is that HELP must be taken by students who are not even interested in working in a company. One of the respondents of the survey said, “HELP is based on the misconception that everybody wants to be a leader especially in business. It is unfair because I am not one of those people.”
Moreover, opponents claim the HELP program does not provide enough opportunities to actually practice the leadership skills that are taught. “I can see that HELP tries to cultivate leadership. However, that is not something we can learn online,” said a Senior from the Department of English Language and Literature who was only identified by her last name, Lee.
Offline conferences are limited. The Hanyang Leadership Dream Concert features special offline lectures dealing with different subjects and contents four times a year, but there is a lack of active promotion. “Even though Hanyang Leadership Dream Concert is presented as an alternative for one of the assignments, I did not know that such constructive lectures were being offered. This reflects that students are not really aware of the advantages of HELP,” said a Sophomore in the Department of Theater and Cinema at HYU.
How to Make HELP Helpful
HYU initiated HELP as a means to assist students to become leaders of the next generation in society. According to a survey by The HJ, 77.5 percent of the respondents said that they disagree that HELP should be a required course. The reason why 20 percent of them were satisfied with HELP was that it was easy to get high grades. To genuinely help students with their future careers,
HELP should change the contents to include multiple routes for s t u d e n t s w h o s e future careers do not lie in business. HELP should also provide more active offline events where students can actually experience leadership.
Instead, a required course, “Vision and Construction o f Campus Life” offered at ERICA Campus could be an alternative. In this course, about ten freshmen are taught by a mentoring professor who helps them envision their future careers. Kim Jiyoung, a Staff of the Hanyang University Career Support Center said, “This course is required for every first year student at ERICA Campus because having a vision for the future is important.” However, the goals of having students learn about their own visions for their lives, and giving them choices about how to reach that goal are some of the program’s strengths.