Hanyang University’s (HYU) Seoul campus recently conducted a survey about the revisal of the curriculum for 2020-2023. In the revisal, they enunciated about issues such as lowering credits limitations, the indication of retaken class on GPA reports, and the restriction of retaking a class only twice. In fact, a survey by the Emergency Measures Committee (EMC) was done last year, which resulted in more than 70 percent of respondents expressing disapproval with the revisal. However, since HYU led the new survey this time, the issue of curriculum revisal has arisen again.
From May 9 to May 31, 2019, the Office of Academic Affairs (OAA) received some feedback about the completed revisal from all HYU professors. After that, the OAA started the student survey at the end of October and ended it on November 6. According to the OAA, the survey result showed a disapproval rating of about 65 percent with the overall revisal, and approximately 55 percent disagreed with some specific revised factors. The OAA also presented that based on the results the revisal will be discussed further next year. The difference of the surveys between last year and this year has been clearly summarized. Jung Joon- ku, the Director of the OAA, explained: “There are some misunderstandings that students have right now. For instance, as for lowering the credits limitation, suppose that there are no limitations to apply for courses. The number of students in a class will increase. Currently, many students try to take popular courses where they can get an A+ easily. This phenomenon needs to be controlled; otherwise unpopular courses would be diminished. In this aspect, we believe that lowering the limitation of credits can provide students the right to take various courses. According to our estimation, the average number of students in each class ranges from 40 to 50. In order to increase the quality of classes, the student number in a class should decrease so that both professors and students can freely discuss with each other. Regarding the retaking class system, HYU once received a negative evaluation from the National Evaluation Center for Higher Education Institutions (NECHEI) that the system needs to be even-handed for both students who take the class twice and get an A+, and for students who take the class only once and get a C+. So, the renovation of the retaking class system is necessary because this evaluation affects highly on supporting funds from the government.”
Jung added, “However, the crucial part that I hope students to look at is actually something else. We are thinking of providing some recommendations regarding which classes to take, with some route programs divided into three sections: Research, Jobs, and Start-ups. Also, we will systemize Industry Coupled Problem Based Learning (IC-PBL) classes and turn them into necessary courses to take in order to enhance the real-life problem-solving skills.”
The revisal was made by the committee consisting of head professors from each department and a Director of the OAA. Committee member Ryu Ho-chul, one of the head professors in the Engineering department, explained: “HYU renews its curriculum every four years, which is not common in most Korean universities. Every one of HYU’s new curriculums has a vision for the generation. Concerning the next generation, 2020-2023, most of our professors agree that we should stop brainwashing students that our knowledge is always the right answer. Instead, we should guide them to create new knowledge. That’s how we came up with the idea of IC-PBL. The ability to draw creative ideas by oneself is becoming more pivotal as the fourth industrial generation is coming and Artificial Intelligence takes over the world, especially in terms of getting a job. I dare say students should not be afraid of a new educational change like IC-PBL. Plus, I don’t understand why they are so against this change, as it is only applicable for next year’s freshmen. Yet, I would like to consider positively of some idea to let students participate in our committee as visitors.”
Lee Han, the Representative of Student Curriculum Committee under the EMC, explained: “Examining the information from the OAA, the OAA clearly provided a better explanation for what students have been curious about. However, I hope to have a closer look at the evidence of ‘GPA inflation’ that the OAA mentioned regarding the retaking class system. I partially agree that the opportunities for retaking class should be given fairly. But in some majors like engineering or natural science, most students are struggling with credits, so they are demanding other chances if HYU plans to regulate the retaking class system. I hope HYU considers this kind of exception and keeps communicating with students. Moreover, about the lowering credits limitation, I can’t understand completely whether the measure comes from the concern of the diminishing number of various classes or not. It is true that most students intend to take some classes that they can easily get an A+ in. But it is not an issue of credit limitation, but a matter of difference between relative and absolute evaluation when receiving grades. If HYU considers turning most relative evaluation courses into absolute evaluation ones, I am sure the problems of GPA inflation and whether to lower the credits limitation would be solved. In addition, most students don’t really understand the IC-PBL classes, so I guess it may not be the appropriate time yet to turn them into required courses.”
Lee Seok-won, a Senior in the Department of International Studies, explained: “I advocate the ideas of the OAA in general. Most students would like to get good grades otherwise they might have some difficulties when applying for a job at the company where they wish to work. But some parts of the retaking class system are still incomprehensible. I personally like the current 2016-2019 curriculum. But at the same time, I hope students are more willing to intelligently embrace the chance to improve their abilities.”
The Future We Might Have to Consider
In the near future, students will build most of their knowledge through online learning. Then, this kind of curriculum change in HYU would help students to prepare for the rapidly changing society and contribute to changing the university admissions systems. But, above all things, HYU needs to communicate constantly with students before changes are made. Still, there are some problems that need to be solved in HYU, such as Blackboard and the survival of some majors. If more chances are given to dig one’s shoes, the decisions in the end must be promising.