"Shine like a diamond! A creative and intelligent offer for your brilliant future - an option for Korea's top one percent students - the Diamond Program." This is the advertisement slogan for the Diamond Program at Hanyang University (HYU).
First introduced last year, the Diamond Program is a program designed to specially support five newly established majors at the Seoul Campus; The Departments of Automotive Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Energy Engineering, Finance, and Policy.
Despite the program's vigorous outlook, the "special support" of certain majors is what arouses the disputable question - "Is it fair to provide jaw-dropping benefits to selective majors?"
The Five Diamonds to Lead HYU
HYU established five new majors since 2009 to strengthen its identity as a prominent school in the highly competitive jungle of universities. HYU has introduced the Diamond Program to further promote the new majors by providing various benefits to the enrolled students.
The Diamond Program has relatively similar benefits for its students. Each department provides full scholarships for its students as long as they maintain a certain Grade Point Average. Each department also has different programs according to their special fields. For example, the Department of Electronic Engineering guarantees employment in educational-industrial cooperation firms after graduation. The Department of Energy Engineering provides students opportunities to participate in joint overseas research programs with universities in the United States like the University of Florida and University of Texas. The Departments of Policy and Finance provide programs to specially prepare students for law schools or state exams, giving them priority over other students.
An employee at the Admissions Management Team (AMT) of HYU, alias Shin, showed a glimmer of satisfaction towards the new five majors by saying, "With so many universities competing against each other to attract talented students, HYU needed a special spark. I think we already succeeded halfway by establishing five new majors." Shin further explained that high school students are already showing interest in the Diamond Program.
Hear the Roars at HYU
The Hanyang Journal conducted a survey of 200 students at both Seoul and ERICA Campuses from January 28 to February 1 to study the reactions of Hanyangians regarding the Diamond Program. 62.1 percent were opposed to the Diamond Program while 37.9 percent supported it.
43.3 percent of those who were against the program thought it is unfair to concentrate school capital on selective majors. 28.1 percent were worried that the school may pay too much attention on the five departments as long as the Diamond Program existed.
On the other hand, the majority of those in favor thought that the program would be beneficial for HYU? reputation and felt the need to pioneer in new fields of academics.
Cho Tae-je, a professor in the Department of Policy, showed confidence that the Diamond Program will work wonders on raising HYU? reputation. According to Cho, two programs are essential to boost HYU to a level of international prestige. One is a system that supports the accomplishments of research by professors. The other is a program supporting majors to select intelligent students. The Diamond Program would apply to the latter.
Nevertheless, many students still think it is unfair that the school concentrates more investment in the five majors of the Diamond Program. Kang Kyung-roo, student president of the College of Humanities, worries about the one-sidedness of the program, saying, "All Hanyangians pay for much of the school financing so every single one of us has the right to receive financial and environmental support. But the truth is, not all of us are evenly enjoying our rights," Kang said.
Kang and Son Kwan-jung, a professor of Dance and also a senator at the Hanyang University Senate, an organization that represents HYU professors, coherently claimed that the Diamond Program ought to be a starting point for a universal welfare program for all. "If the Diamond Program expands to provide special benefits to other majors as well, the main purpose of the program will show better,"Son said.
Calm Down Dear, It is for Your Own Good!
Shin acknowledged that a portion of the student body has a bad impression on the Diamond Program. Nevertheless, he emphasizes the need for the program, for a boost on school reputation. "The Diamond Program was founded in the first place to improve admission results. Pessimists toward the program must realize the order of priority for the betterment of the whole school," said Shin.
Other universities such as Sungkyunkwan University and Sookmyung Women's University (SMWU) are also investing to install attention-grabbing programs in newly established majors. Sungkyunkwan University for example provides students majoring in Global Business with full tuition scholarships and accommodation in dormitories.
SMWU in specific presented the Blue Ribbon Project in 2010 as the school's new goal to strive for boldly characterizing selective majors. Le Cordon Bleu (LCB) Restaurant Management at SMWU, which is one of the majors targeted in the Blue Ribbon Project, was first established in 2007. It has been supported by SMWU with advantageous programs ever since. For instance, SMWU provides financial aid for on-site practice education and specially offers education for certification. Jeon Eun-jung, a teaching assistant at SMWU's Department of LCB Hospitality Management said, "Offering various benefits to the students who are admitted into the LCB Restaurant Management surely worked in enrolling competitive students since 2007."
Shin additionally explained that the Diamond Program is not for the benefit of the five majors only. Instead, it will be a stepping stone for all the majors at HYU simultaneously. This is so because when high school students become fascinated by the Diamond Program and strive hard to be qualified for one of the majors, they will show interest in HYU. If those students realize that they might not make the cut later on when it becomes time for college applications, they may apply for another major right below. Consequently, when the number of these students increases, the quality of students entering HYU will improve overall.
A True Diamond's Glitter
The Diamond Program started off with the drive to enhance HYU's reputation. The school has invested in the program under the name of "benefit for all." However, many Hanyangians do not feel that they are being "Benefited"by the program. They doubt the fairness and original intention of the Diamond Program.
Choi Yoon-won, a Sophomore majoring in Politics and Diplomacy, points out that HYU needs to search for a way which all majors can feel like lucky diamonds at school. "I understand that the school wants to seize the public eye with the Diamond Program. And I also understand that the school might favor the College of Engineering because that is what brought HYU this far. However, I cannot help myself but to think that the school should not abandon the other majors," she said.
The problem with the Diamond Program is that HYU seems as if it is trying to leap forward with only five pillars as a foundation. However, a genuinely prestigious school is one which all of its majors are superb in their very own ways. HYU should not depend solely on five majors for the development of the whole. It should help majors that are not in the Diamond Program strengthen their identity within HYU by improving each of their curricula and educational programs. After all, a true diamond glitters beautifully on all of its sides.