"Professor recruiting has occurred only when students make demands and becoming active?"
- Lee Seung-hye 21th dean of Department of French Language and Culture
Kim is a sophomore who majors in the Department of French Language and Culture at the Catholic University of Korea (CUK). He had an interest in French art in high school, so he decided to study here and was getting more and more interests in French culture after coming to university. In addition, three full professors were in his department and they are popular among students with almost perfect scores from students in all evaluations of their lectures. Therefore, last year, he decided to choose an intensive single major, instead of a double major.
However, Kim heard surprising news. It is that only two courses were offered by full professors for this year. When he accessed Trinity to register for courses, there were only 11 major elective subjects in the Department of French Language and Culture. This is because professor Bang Mi-Kyung is taking a sabbatical year. In addition, professor Choi Dong-shin and Ahn Bo-ok will be retiring in 2021 and 2023. Kim wanted to take more major courses in various fields before graduation, but these situations made him feel that his right to choice was taken away. He envied friends who are in popular majors that are offering more than 25 subjects this semester.
In this situation, some students who have consciousness of crisis included the dean of the Department of French Language and Culture, Lee Seung-hye. However, when she posted complaints about the problem on the Sinmungo of dean of Academic Affairs and tried to contact the academic affairs office, it took more than two months to receive answer from the university. Moreover, according to the Academic Affairs office's answer, professor recruitment has not proceeded because "The Department of French Language and Culture was below the recruitment evaluation standard and students have not required the recruitment of professor before." At this stage, she referred this problem to public opinion and demanded a step in the right direction from CUK by putting up the two wall posters, but Kim felt hopeless to hear that there will be no recruitment of new professors this semester.
Problems related to the lack of professors are continually raised at CUK. In the case of the Department of Sociology, there was no recruitment of professors until the number of professors was reduced to two people. Choi Dong-shin, professor of Department of French Language and Culture, said, "To operate an educational administration system smoothly and guide students with internal stability in charge of one grade per professor, three or four professors on the tenure track are needed at least." However, eventually, after sociology students began a movement for professor recruitment from 2015, the university recruited a sociology professor last semester, so now there are three professors giving a sociology lecture. Besides, there are about just three to four full professors in mathematics, pedology, bioscience and some of humanities departments like China Language and Culture, National history, including the Department of French Language and Culture.
However, up to 2020 first semester, full professor recruitment at CUK will be progressed in some of the natural science and engineering science like the Biomedical and Chemical Engineering department, newly established this year and the Start-up Fusion major. According to the Academic Affairs office, new recruitment standards for the full-time professor included indicators related to the number of double major students, the proportion of changing majors, and the research performance of the prospective professor.
In fact, support and demand by society for pure foundation studies is decreasing, particularly on the liberal arts track, not only at CUK, but also throughout our country. According to the Ministry of Education, the employment of people having doctorates is 58.7% in the case of liberal arts majors and 83.7% in the case of engineering majors as of 2016. Liberal arts majors have even coined a neologism "문송합니다 (Sorry for being liberal arts students)", sneering at the poor employment prospects for those in the liberal arts. In addition, the Ministry of Education's analysis of public disclosure university information about increases in the number of four-year university departments, starting from 2007, 11.9% in departments of natural science (840→990) and 2% in engineering (1736→1745) have increased, while there has been a 14.2% decrease in the liberal art department (1467→1259).
For these reasons, there are only few students who want to enter departments on pure learning in comparison with business or engineering, so-called, popular department. Even at CUK, Department of French Language and Culture has the lowest entrance quota in frequent admission (16 people, in prescribed number). In addition, there is no allocation of students for entrance: some part of School Record Selection focused on non-subject activity and an Essay-type Examination Selection. Academic environment and employment rates based on market demand decreased again inflow of student. About this situation, professor Choi Dong-shin said, "Rather than following current trends, it can be a better direction that university intensively develops more specialized fields within the humanities and social sciences." The Ministry of Education decided that it cannot just follow marketing logic at the national level.
In fact, in allocating limited resources, setting up a standard and prioritizing is unavoidable, regardless of the economic value of each major. "Due to the decrease in school-age population and freeze tuition, many universities were in financial difficulty." Strategic Planning Team in CUK said, "In the situation, which we should manage domestic and foreign evaluation index and keep up with the trend of society, we execute the new full-time professor recruitment in the order of priority for greater efficiency." However, considering the original purpose of the university to provide an environment where students can study, universities should at least try to prevent in advance a situation that can infringe on the students' right to learn. Especially at CUK, where the problem of a lack of communication between students and the administration has long been an issue, university officials need to hear students' voices.