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SNU tops university rankings again this year

Oct 30,2017
Seoul National University has ranked first in the JoongAng Ilbo’s comprehensive university rankings for 2017, followed by Sungkyunkwan, Hanyang, Korea and Yonsei universities.

The JoongAng Ilbo assessed 61 four-year universities using 33 different criteria, including number of academic citations, scholarship availability and post-graduation employment rates.

SNU’s humanities and social science departments ranked first, while the school received the highest scores for faculty research, educational environment and reputation. Its excellent educational environment was said to be the result of large government and corporate investments, active publications by professors and outstanding scholarship benefits for students.

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (Kaist) ranked first in natural science, while Sungkyunkwan University and Pohang University of Science and Technology (Postech) tied for the top ranking in engineering.

Sungkyunkwan was noted for its availability of financial support for professors and students alike. In the past year, the school granted 36.2 billion won ($32 million) in research funds to faculty, the highest in the country. Furthermore, it published the most articles of all Korean universities in international journals. One of its chemical engineering professors, Park Nam-gyu, is the only Korean to be listed on the 2017 Clarivate Citation Laureates list, which is used to identify who is likely to be awarded a Nobel Prize.

Hanyang University’s Seoul Campus, on the other hand, stood out in terms of student achievement, especially in the start-up industry. Out of all the start-ups certified by the Korea Technology Finance Corporation, 498 graduated from Hanyang University’s Seoul Campus, just behind SNU’s 525. Last year, Hanyang offered lectures on entrepreneurship to about 6,580 attendees, the most in the country. In 2012, it started the Hanyang Start-up Academy, which financially supports alumni and current students with up to 150 million won each.

Korea and Yonsei’s Seoul campuses did generally well across all categories. Korea did slightly better than Yonsei when it came to research grants, publication performance and student employment and achievement. Yonsei came out ahead in terms of reputation, educational environment, tuition and residence availability.

Sogang University, which ranked sixth overall, did well in terms of student employment. Though Sogang ranked third in overall employment, after Sungkyunkwan and Korea University, with a rate of 73.2 percent, it ranked first in employment per discipline. Despite having many of its students majoring in humanities, which can lead to employment challenges, Sogang has created a successful employment program that connects students with opportunities and offers useful resources, including mock interviews in English.

Inha University placed eighth, scoring high in faculty research. Since 2014, Inha has increased the scope of its research grants, and began funding professors who submitted outstanding proposals. It also designates one professor as the career coach for each department, making him or her responsible for collecting the latest employment information and guiding students to opportunities that suit them best.

Kyung Hee University, which ranked tenth overall, has a reputation of being the most foreign student-friendly. This year, it had 3,368 foreign students, and helped them enter the Korean job market by offering services to polish their resumes and improve their interview skills in Korean.

Konkuk University, which ranked 15th overall, has a notably strong support system for students and a very low drop-out rate of 2.2 percent. From 2015, the school began motivating students with low GPAs with the promise of scholarships worth up to 1 million won if they improve.

Pusan National University, the top public university outside Seoul, did well in reputation and influence on the local community. It started the “Education Charity Program” in 2011, allowing students who major in music, art or physical education to meet with underprivileged children to share their expertise.

The University of Ulsan, which ranked first among private universities outside of Seoul, focuses on cooperation with local industry and maintains a close relationship with Hyundai Heavy Industries and the Asan Medical Center, working closely with another 20 “family companies” within Ulsan.

Hallym University, which ranked third in the same category, provides numerous field placement opportunities to its students by partnering with 308 institutions in the region, while Sun Moon University was the best in the country in terms of offering student resident services. This year it had a student accommodation ratio of 40.3 percent, which has attracted many foreign students, who make up 8.1 percent of the student body.

When it came to reputation, however, SNU is still regarded as the top education center in Korea.

In JoongAng Ilbo’s survey of 550 recruiters and 550 high school teachers, SNU was selected as having the most desirable new recruits, the greatest potential to grow and being most likely to be recommended to students. But Sungkyunkwan ranked first as the university from which recruiters wanted to recruit new humanities graduates.

BY Special Reporting Team [kim.eunjin1@joongang.co.kr]