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Making our universities competitive

May 16,2018
Chun Ho-hwan
*President of Pusan National University

Korean universities’ competitiveness is not considered to be on par with that of other countries. In the 2018 QS World University Ranking, only two Korean schools made the top 50: Seoul National University at 36th and Kaist at 41st. The United States placed 15 schools in the top 30.
The origin of the new economy that brought knowledge about information technology and opened the fourth industrial revolution was in Silicon Valley, where Stanford and UC Berkeley are located. Harvard and MIT are in Boston, which is also the cradle that sets the direction of the United States and the global economy.

The United States could monopolize global knowledge power and lead the global economy through new economic models driven by universities, thanks to the enormous financial support from Congress through two laws. In 1862, the Morrill Land-Grant Acts provide financial support and free land for state universities. As a result, 106 state universities have been established across the United States.

After the Great Depression and World War II, the U.S. Congress again created a law to focus investment on basic research and graduate studies to establish world-class research universities. The 15 U.S. universities in the top 30 world ranking are all research-focused schools.

While Seoul National University has the most outstanding students and educational and research environments in South Korea, it has failed to make efforts for innovation and present the nation’s future vision. A report looking back on its planning and goals was published.

A policy to provide the same financial assistance to all universities and making them all the best is unrealistic. To become a first-class nation, a good cycle should be established by making world-class schools and students first, and having them influence other schools to become more competitive.