A critical study on the university and academic assessment system in Korea
Abstract 'Evaluation' and 'assessment' are familiar terms within a university education system in Korea. Evaluation results have become critical to the survival of universities. Universities are currently devoting a great deal of energy toward securing a better evaluation, often sacrificing important and niche education programs and practices for more populist choices. Although the current evaluation system has had some negative results, the system itself is founded on solid grounds. It was expected to accelerate competition among the universities and professors. Irregularity, immorality, intellectual dishonesty and low productivity are severe and deeply prevalent problems in Korean professors' society. But those reform tasks do not seem to have been seriously taken into consideration. The current evaluation system seems to just follow the neo-liberal policy prescribed by the Ministry of Education. In addition to the various side effects the assessment brings about, there are other fundamental problems with the assessment itself. First, the assessment is mainly focused on solving the competition crisis of universities and professors. Secondly, the importance of the crisis of morality is severely underestimated in university assessment systems. Thirdly, democracy on university campuses is given insufficient attention in the current assessment system. Fourth, the identity crisis faced by universities and professors is also disregarded by the university assessment. Fifth, the current university assessment is not interested in the crisis of intellectuality. In brief, the current university evaluation system has many problems, but we cannot reject the assessment of universities, education, and professors completely. At this juncture, it is important to make sure evaluation is conducted 'properly'. First of all, it is very important to redirect the goal of assessment and it begins from observing precisely the prevalent crisis factors facing higher education in Korea. Once the crisis areas are clearly identified, university assessment should be redesigned and targeted at correcting the problems. A University and professor assessment system that neglects the ultimate purpose of universities, research and education, can only result in abnormal assessment. That is why we need a fundamental redesign of the current university assessment system.
Keywords: university assessment; academic assessment; university reform
Hong Duck-Ryul is Professor of Sociology, Daegu University, Korea. He received his PhD in Sociology from Seoul National University in 1993. His research fields include Political Sociology, Economic Sociology, Social inequality. He was a Member of the Presidential Commission on Policy Planning. His publications include A Structural Understanding of Korean Society (Hanguk sahoe-ui gujoronjeok ihae, co-authored, 1998) and A Study on Generations of Korean Society (Hanguk sahoe-ui sedae yeongu, 2003).