Yeungnam University has been selected as a participant of the ‘Program for Industrial Needs-Matched Education' (PRIME business) by the Ministry of Education.
The Ministry of Education and the Korea Research Foundation announced on May 3 that 21 universities including Yeungnam University were chosen as participants of the government aid package. YU will receive approximately 45 billion won over the next three years.
With its selection, YU will focus on developing intelligent robots, future automobiles, convergence materials, and chemistry. The university is also planning to establish an IT Mechanical College by separating electrical, electronics, computer sciences, telecommunications, and machinery from the existing College of Engineering. Moreover, YU will establish departments of Robot Mechanical Engineering and Automotive Mechanical Engineering this year. As a result of such realignment, 1,400 students will be recruited next year. In addition, to promote the education of humanities, YU plans to effectively improve the education system for lectures through the Yeungnam University-Massive Open Online Course (YU-MOOC).
However, the idea of PRIME business is controversial. Supporters say that the new program could minimize the current mismatch of the workforce and help university students enter society more easily by improving the quality of colleges according to corporate demand. On the other hand, people, who feel negatively about this focus on engineering, suggest that the program is only for employment and financial reasons. They also asserted that university restructuring, designed to meet industrial demand for engineers and technicians, will not only cause confusion within the institution but is unrealistic as well.
In particular, there is a growing chorus of criticism that PRIME business could lead to reckless mergers without reflecting unique characteristics of each department. There are conflicting opinions on the validity of the new program, but unquestionably its purpose is to cut the student quota in humanities and social sciences while increasing the number of students in science and engineering.
The problem is that the college has to promise to reduce the fixed number and movement of affiliation to be selected for the PRIME business program. For this reason, colleges have promoted mergers without considering the situation of the departments in order to receive financial aid.
The Yeungnam Observer conducted interviews with YU students to sound out their opinions and learned that their opinions were divided. One student said, “It is true that PRIME business tailors the college to the employment market demand, but in reality it cannot be helped. Also, it is natural to foster necessary manpower and to curtail surplus personnel, so I think PRIME business is necessary.” However, another student refuted, “The aid package will be baffling our dreams and simply to derive benefits from an economic dimension. From a long-term point of view, I do not think PRIME business is desirable.”
Head of Planning & Budget Office Do Jun-heung said, “It is difficult however while one can sympathize with the members of the college, it must be understood that PRIME is a big project. Furthermore, by joining the program, YU is positioned to support both new departments and departments to be downsized and as such both the quality of the college and the public image will be enhanced. Lastly, to comment on the introduction of YU-MOOC, YU-MOOC is a different system from K-MOOC. By providing excellent content and systems, we can expect improved effectiveness in promoting humanities.”