Being a member of a certain university in Korea means more than simply being able to receive educational services at that school. Usually, the university becomes one’s first impression in society and acts as social capital. The Korean word “hakyeon”1 clearly shows this function of a university. Sometimes, these extra functions of a university are considered more important than its initial aim: students’ academic achievement. However, what is the intrinsic purpose of a university apart from such derivatives? Because a university is essentially an educational institution, it is the top priority of every university to provide its students with high-quality education. Is Sogangers’ right of education being realized by high-quality education? In other words, is Sogang now properly fulfilling its quintessential purpose as a university? To answer this question, The Sogang Herald conducted joint coverage with Sogang Hakbo (Sogang University newspaper), S.G.B.S (Sogang Broadcasting Station), and Sogang TV.
The joint coverage team organized in Sept. 27 conducted a coverage for about two months. The team analyzed the elements that influence the quality of education and divided them into three: faculty members, curriculum, and facilities.
1. Faculty Members
Since faculty members are the ones who actually give lectures, no amount of excellent curriculum or the facilities to carry it out will be enough in the absence of the faculty. Decreasing faculty members means more lectures which have to be taught by a single professor. For faculty in full service (FFS)2, the increasing size of lectures could be burdensome since they have to balance both their research and teaching. This can be detrimental to overall faculty performance and lecture quality, hindering the right of education and lowering external indexes.
The Rate of FFS3
Because FFS can pursue their research and teach lectures with support of the university, it can be deduced that FFS will be able to provide higher-quality lectures compared to part-time faculty4. Therefore, the rate of FFS can be a meaningful estimate in gauging the quality of education. According to official sources from Academy Info5, the rate of FFS (based on student quota) of Sogang during last three years were 75.18%, 73.39%, and 74.01% respectively. This ratio takes 11th place among those of 11 major universities located in Seoul. In 2019, Seoul National University, Sungkyunkwan University, and Yonsei University achieved over 100% in the rate of faculty in full service. Korea University, Hanyang University, Chung-Ang University, Kyung Hee University, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, and the University of Seoul showed a 90% rate, while Ewha Womans University showed a percentage of 89.07. Compared to these indicators, Sogang’s rate of 74.01% can be considered drastically lower than those of other universities.
The Number of FFS and the Number of Students per FFS
Additional recruiting of FFS can be a proper solution to this situation. However, the number of Sogang’s FFS has continuously decreased since 2014, resulting in the increased number of students per FFS. According to official sources from Academy Info, when compared among the aforementioned 11 major universities, Sogang ranked 11th (30.58 students, 2017), 11th (31.37 students, 2018), and 11th (31.06 students, 2019) in terms of the number of students per FFS over past three years. Fewer FFS can result in more large-scale lectures6. Sogang has the biggest number of large-scale lectures among the 11 universities. In 2019, only three of the 11 universities recorded the ratio of large-scale lectures to more than 20%: Korea University, Sogang University, and Chung-Ang University. Large-scale lectures don't possess the merits of offline lectures. Furthermore, large-scale lectures place burdens on the professor with large number of exams and reports to grade. The increasing number of large-scale lectures cannot be considered positive.
Prospect for the Number of FFS
In the minutes of the 2018 3rd Tuition Deliberation Committee (TDC)7, Lee Jong-jin, the committee president, said that considering the size of Sogang’s finances, the proper size (of FFS) is estimated at 350 to 370. According to Kim Pyung-gang(14, Dept of Mathematics), a faculty recommended TDC member, the Sogang University Corporation had a plan to gradually curtail the number of FFS to about 350~390 by hiring only 70% of the number of FFS who will retire. As concerns over the probable damage on students and quality of education was raised, it revised its original plan. It was to increase the number of FFS to maintain its highest degree that it reached a few years ago. However, the number on its peak time was still insufficient to realize the right of education completely.
2. The Curriculum
Common Essential and Choice Course (CECC)
CECC is a crucial part of Sogang education because all Sogangers must complete the Common Essential Courses (CEC) and Common Choice Course (CCC). Given that the recent social trend regards people with both expertise and knowledge of humanities as competent, its significance can be emphasized more.
However, according to the survey in Cover Story 1, many students are not satisfied with current CECC. When they were asked “Are you satisfied with the composition of compulsory liberal arts (now CECC) in the current curriculum?” 536 students (65.4% of the total 834 respondents) answered “No.” Then, to the question “What track do you think should be the most important part of compulsory liberal arts?” respondents chose Exploration of Society and Human (26.9%, 225 person, now Human Being and Society)most. The least chosen answer was Exploration of Human Being and Faith (1.8%, 15 person). These figures show that Sogangers don’t want the proportion of Human Being and Faith area to expand.
A noticeable part in Table 1 is Human Being and Faith. It is the only area where the number of classes increased. This contrasts sharply with the decline in the number of subjects in Exploration of Society and Human, which students chose as the most important area, and the “Exploration of Thought and Language Expressions” excluded from CCC. The fact that the change occured in the opposite direction from Sogangers’ needs is clear. Some Sogangers expressed concerns that the change could lead to a greater threat to the right of education when linked to the Jesuit appointment internal regulation.
Special Regulation: Jesuit Appointment Internal Regulation
The Jesuit appointment internal regulation was made public in 2017 after students requested the disclosure of information about the administrative process. The gist of this regulation is that the Jesuits can be appointed as faculty in Sogang supernumerarily and not publicly. Jeong Jinseong (15, Dept of Sociology), who was the vice president of Emergency Response Committee then, said that making the process of hiring faculty public was something that should be done for the right of education. He added that in the situation where hiring part-time faculty is difficult due to the Gypsy Scholar Act, problems can arise if Sogang fills the positions with the Jesuits using the internal regulation. As he said, we cannot guarantee the quality of education if the Jesuits are appointed as faculty members without thorough verification in open progress. In addition, although the regulation defines them as “supernumerary,” they are still official faculty members who need much resources to maintain. The existence of such members could make the appointment of new FSS difficult in the trend of reducing the number of FSS due to a budget shortage. Consequently, this could deprive students of the opportunity to get proper education from qualified and competent faculties.
In the Human Being and Faith area, five professors from Jesuit have already given lectures since 2015. Even now, there is a tendency to appoint Catholic-related individuals as professors. This means that Human Being and Faith is an area where Jesuit members could be employed at any time on the regulation. The CEC “Reflection and Growth” is in line with this. Since the beginning of the subject, Jesuit faculty members have occupied all lectures. Given that even the professor who was employed this year and in charge of the lecture is also a Jesuit, this convention is not likely to change.
3. The Facilities
A comfortable environment is a basic element for efficient learning. As such, facilities are also a vital component in realizing the right of education. Facilities like laboratories and experimental tools become even more important, especially so for the School of Natural Sciences and Engineering.
In the survey of Cover Story 1, the dissatisfaction about buildings of Natural Science and Engineering sticks out. Out of all the respondents who replied they use the RA building, AS building, and R building, 90%, 74.07%, 63.58% respectively said they felt the buildings are inconvenient. When compared to the total average ratio (54.7%), these figures are considerably high. Respondents repeatedly mentioned the lack of laboratories and also experimental tools.
For the MA building and D Building, complaints about air conditioning system were prevalent. 42 students out of the 58 students had inconveniences with the MA building and 30 students out of the 72 students had inconveniences with the D building mentioned air conditioning system when questioned about the main cause of their inconvenience. On the possibility of improving air conditioning systems in problematic buildings, Kim Sang-su, the deputy head of Facility Management Team, said “almost every air conditioning system of Sogang are installed not by Sogang’s finance, but by supported finance from a national project. Because the systems are aged, it’s time to change them.” However, he added that replacement and installment of a new system takes so much money that the improvement is less likely to be realized in the context of the university’s aggravating finance.
The joint coverage team's diagnosis in depth to the condition of right of education is “Requires Treatment.” Then, how can Sogang overcome its illness? The Sogang Herald is going to give Sogang the prescription in Cover Story 3.
By Na Kwang-hyun (Campus Reporter)
6 Classes with 61 or more students