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Education leaders gather for Campus Town conference

Nov 24,2017
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Education leaders and presidents of Seoul-based universities gather for the Campus Town International Conference on Thursday at Yonsei University in Seodaemun District, western Seoul. Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon stands ninth from far right in the front row. [PARK SANG-MOON]
Education leaders and presidents of Seoul-based universities gathered Thursday at Yonsei University in Seodaemun District, western Seoul, to look back on a multi-billion won project organized and funded by the Seoul Metropolitan Government this year to boost connections between schools and local communities, while discussing ways to improve the project for 2018.

Hosted by the Seoul government, the Campus Town International Conference had some 250 attendees, including Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon; Hezki Arieli, president of Yozma Global Campus; Keith Jeffrey, managing director of Coventry University Social Enterprise in the United Kingdom; Richard Plunz, a professor of architecture at Columbia University in New York; and nearly 50 university presidents in Seoul.

Thirteen universities were selected for Seoul’s Campus Town initiative this year, which required schools to cooperate with each district office in providing various educational and recreational projects responding to its residents’ needs. Some 5.1 billion won ($4.7 million) was allocated. Seoul plans to include more schools in the years to come, setting aside 152 billion won in total by 2025.

KC University, for instance, a Christian institute founded in 1958, which is the only university in Seoul’s western Gangseo District, offered studying counselling sessions for some 100 students within the area, will soon hold an English speaking contest for elementary school children and teamed up with the Korea JoongAng Daily to offer journalism internship programs for middle and high school teens.

“We have about 60 institutes of higher education in Seoul alone. Nowhere else in the world will you see a city as packed with universities as ours,” Seoul Mayor Park said during his welcoming speech. “I’m certain that if we make use of the talents each school has, we can create opportunities for more people to establish start-ups and the local economy will thrive.”

Many other schools chosen for the Campus Town project focused on offering lessons to start a business, some going further by giving up space on their campus for an office.

“A while ago,” said Park, “a professor who lectured in England said universities held the actual power to give substantive help to students wanting to start a business.”

Kang Woo-jun, director of the Gangseo Education Institute for Ingenuity, who is a business administration professor at KC University and who heads the school’s R&D Foundation, said he was highly pleased that the Campus Town project enabled KC to build rapport with younger students and their parents within Gangseo District, stressing the experience had tremendous PR effect, as well.

Next year, KC University is planning to develop the English educational programs it offered this year and open new computer programming classes for young students. Specifics will be finalized after consultation with Gangseo and Seoul government officials, said Kang.

“KC University wants to cooperate with the community and contribute to the fostering of children through the skill sets we have,” Kang said. “It’s my dream to induce locals into thinking that the very existence of our school is a benefit.”

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]