A conference was held to honor the outgoing president, Tong-Ki Woo on 22, January 2009. President Woo held the office of president of YU for 4 years beginning in February 2005. It is difficult to evaluate all of his decisions during those 4 years at this moment, but in my opinion it is possible to answer the question of whether or not the former president built a university of the students, by the students, and especially for the students. I believe the answer to that question must be NO. In this article we will assess the 4 years of the former president.
YU Reaps What YU Sows
Spending on research, strengthening the research community
During his 4 years, President Woo obtained good results on promoting research by professors. Our university's national ranking on the quality of research done by professors rose from thirty-sixth place to twentieth according to an evaluation done by JoongAng Daily. In the major field of study, physics, YU was acknowledged as being a superior school at a university evaluation organized by the Korean Council for University Education in 2008. The Department of Media and Communication was also recognized as for excellence in 2004. To achieve these results, he revised the professor promotion process unconventionally. He restricted mandatory pay raises if the professor's study record fell below standards. In order to achieve these standards the professors had to be acknowledged in a treatise registered with the Scientific Citation Index or in a scholarly journal authorized by the Korea Research Foundation. He also increased the funding for research to 9 billion won from 1.9 billion in 2006.
Creating a Huge Tuition Burden
YU increased tuition on average by 6 percent over the last 3 years
The issue of tuition fees is a hot potato every new term because many students cannot afford the heavy cost of tuition. For example, the rate of increase in fees was originally set to be more than 7 percent last year, but the student association fought against this and the actual increase was still a significant 5.6%.
There was perpetual friction between the university and students during President Woo's tenure. The university also did not inform students of a payment plan for tuition. Most students did not know tuition payments could be divided into four installments. Students were further angered when they were unable to enroll for specific courses. Every time they applied for certain classes on the university web-site, they had to finish the application almost instantly in order to register for a class being taught by a popular professor, because the demand for these classes were much greater than the capacity offered. The university should have worried more about the best use of student's tuition.
We also have to pay additional money if we want to enroll in classes during vacation to earn credit. A lot of students do this if they are short credits for completing their course. The fees, however, are stiff. For example, both Kyungpook National University's and Pusan National University's fees were not above 25,000 won per credit last semester. Keimyung Univserity, a private university similar to ours was 70,000 won per credit. YU charged 90,000 won per credit. Almost all classes are 3 credits so students had to pay more than 270,000 won for 1 class. The university should better understand its role and make these classes more accessible.
Yeungnam Construction Company
There are big buildings for the university, but there is very little space for students.
On YU's huge campus, there are many big glittering structures; the Central Library rises to the sky, the Chunma Arts Center flashes over the campus, and the Law Library stands alone far from the students. These new buildings contain a lot of space for certain selected people, but no places for the average students were planned except for in the Central Library. In the case of the Chunma Arts Center, when the university began construction, they planned to have study rooms for the students. However, the space will now be used for conference rooms. When the university began construction of the Law Library, they named the building the "International Building" which would be open for international conferences, but it was changed for use by the Law School only. The entrance quota for the Law School is only 80 students, and they can use both the law school building and the law library. To build the new Law School this year, The old College of Law was not able to accept new students for this academic year and will no longer exist in the future. Additionally, the Central Library has 20 floors, but only 3 floors are for students during every exam period, so there is never enough space for students to study.
President Woo undeniably raised YU's profile. However, as he was focused on doing this I believe he lost sight of the basic needs of the students.