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200 academics convene in Ulsan

Future of the fourth industrial revolution was center of talks
Mar 15,2017
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Academic leaders at the three-day Asia Universities Summit take a tour of the Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in Ulsan on Tuesday and hear an explanation of the history of the complex. [PARK SANG-MOON]
ULSAN - Foreign and Korean heads of universities debated the role of the fourth industrial revolution in academic curriculum during a roundtable on the sidelines of the Asia Universities Summit, which kicked off Tuesday in Ulsan.

The Times Higher Education’s Asia Universities Summit, which runs through Thursday, drew some 200 academic leaders from two dozen countries to the industrial capital of Korea.

“The fourth industrial revolution has many definitions and interpretations,” said University of Ulsan President Oh Yeon-cheon during the presidents’ roundtable at the Hotel Hyundai Ulsan. “We can think of the fourth industrial revolution as an extension of the IT convergence industry.”

He continued, “I think the main goal is to enhance the existing value of the manufacturing industry while enhancing the existing industrial structure with AI technology, big data technology and so on. By doing so, we can achieve optimization intelligence and high sensitivity.”

But he pointed out that the “urgent task is reform of curriculum.” The university may provide software coding education to all new students, or can be more active and push existing departments to dramatically change their curriculum in order to include more modern software and IT technology.

The roundtable on the topic of the “4th Industrial Revolution and the Role of Universities” included academic leaders such as Seoul National University President Sung Nak-in, Chodang University President Park Jong-koo, Kyungpook National University Kim Sang-dong, Bandung Institute of Technology Rector Kadarsah Suryadi and Times Higher Education Deputy News Editor John Morgan.

Umran Inan, president of Koc University in Turkey, said “university education is an appointment between generations” and argued that the classroom has to focus on dialogue and open-mindedness.

“Specialization is not necessary,” he said, because the university cannot determine what will be popular 10 years from now. “If we end up revising our curriculum to focus on software, we would not be doing a service to higher education. Rather than revising the curriculum, we need to have our faculty divorce itself from the curriculum. They are too dependent on it. I teach a class of 75 students and 45 percent of the grade is dialogue.”

“I believe it is not the future, but it is taking place,” Postech President Kim Doh-yeon said of the fourth industrial revolution. “As a university, future preparation is always important for our students,” he added, but pointed out that this generation may live up to 120 years, so they have to be prepared to work over 70 years after graduating.

SNU President Sung described how his school introduced a big data institute, the only one of its kind in Korea, four years ago, when current Ulsan president Oh served as its head. He said, “Society will change rapidly, so universities must adapt.”

The participants of the three-day summit, organized by the British ranking institute THE and co-hosted by the University of Ulsan and Ulsan Metropolitan City, also took part in a tour of Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard.

HHI was founded in 1972 in a small fishing village and has since delivered 2,100 ships worldwide, with 66 set to be delivered this year to Greece, Denmark, France, Norway, Turkey and elsewhere. It currently has 23,000 employees, and roughly as many subcontractors.

Participants of the university summit also took part in seminars, including a Japanese Masterclass, Korean Masterclass and a dinner reception hosted by the Ulsan Metropolitan City at Hotel Hyundai.

“It was fascinating to visit the shipyard since everything was so large, from the lifts to the components,” said Mohsen Kalantar, vice chancellor of education of Iran University of Science and Technology, an electrical engineering expert. “Korea has the experience of developing its industry, and there will be a good opportunity for it to share this with other countries.”

He added, “Cooperation between industry and education is very important because we in universities educate the students, while the industries can provide us feedback.”

Dr. Lim Tiong Hoo, head of planning and development at the Universiti Teknologi Brunei, with the Faculty of Engineering, said it was his first visit to Korea and Ulsan, and he hopes to explore future cooperation between his school and Korean universities.

“We now have a direct flight from Brunei to Incheon,” he said, “so I hope for an opportunity to reach out to Korean universities and expand student exchange cooperation.”

The opening ceremony for the summit kicks off Wednesday.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]