After Decades of Building Colleges, South Korea Faces a Lack of Students (CHE)

In my last post I shared what’s going on in China’s universities (closing majors without jobs’  prospects). Now, South Korea seems to be having more universities than they need (compared to 15 years ago). This CHE article by David McNeill CHE – Korea Universities – Nov 27 2011 is worth reading. McNeill describes South Korea’s situation (which might be the case of other developed/developing countries) and demonstrates how critical is the need for continuous assessment and strategic planning of both the higher education and the R&D/innovation systems to support a country’s well-being.

“Times have changed, and we have new technologies and knowledge. I’m in favor of combining conventional methods with the innovative spirit, and we need a system that generates innovation and creativity.”  says President Lee.  The question is whether universities can produce more innovation and creativity while preserving the strengths of their past during what is clearly a crossroads for the South Korea’s higher-education system.

One thought on “After Decades of Building Colleges, South Korea Faces a Lack of Students (CHE)

  1. It is very opportune that you have posted this . Hans has circulated a similar report about India. I am copying it here for you:

    With more colleges and less students, engineering colleges from three Indian states have requested the statutory body, AICTE to stop granting permissions for newer colleges.

    Engineering colleges from Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra [ Images ] and Rajasthan [ Images ] have written to AICTE to not approve any new engineering institutions in the above states as they are facing a slump in demand. The three states are Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan which found mushroom growth of the private engineering colleges over the past one decade to cash on the growing demand.

    They, however, now face a slump in the demand as they have written to All India [ Images ] Council of Technical Education (AICTE), the technical education regulator, not to approve any new engineering institutions.

    At a time when even the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are unable to get students for all seats, at least three state governments have cried halt to sanction of the new engineering colleges in their states since they are facing a ‘problem of plenty’ as they are having trouble finding enough students for their colleges.

    Besides these states, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka [ Images ] and West Bengal [ Images ] are other states where a large number of engineering seats remained vacant this year.

    The AICTE officials are amused that the state governments that always used to badger them to hurry with clearance of colleges in their territory now want the council not to grant any further licences.

    AICTE chairman SS Mantha, however, claims this is not an extraordinary situation as about 15 to 20 per cent seats in engineering institutions remain vacant every year because of students’ preference to specific colleges and courses. The council can’t refuse licence to new colleges, just because of the state governments’ red flag, without supporting their claim with substantial logic, he affirmed.

    “Only these three states said they do not want new institutions. But they have not given details of the number of students clearing Class XII exams or the number of general and other professional institutions operating in these states. Unless we get those data, we cannot take a final decision on their demand. We have asked the states to furnish the additional data by December 31,” the AICTE chief said.

    He said, “There have also been instances of students not wanting to study in institutions far away from state capitals or metro cities. We will consider these factors before taking a final decision on whether or not to allow new engineering institutions.”

    Mantha asserted that the demand for engineering education has not reached a peak or saturation. He quoted in support a report on IIT-JEE reforms prepared by IIT Kharagpur director Damodar Acharya that nearly 25 lakh candidates appear for different engineering exams every year across the country. Many sit for more than one entrance exam.

    The AICTE — a statutory body whose approval is necessary to start courses in streams such as engineering, management, pharmacy and architecture — has, however, taken cognisance of the three states’ request and asked all states to make a demand-supply analysis and suggest if they wanted more engineering institutions to be set up.

    It has also decided to let the engineering institutions conduct part-time courses in the evening hours from 2012-13 for working professionals, since there is already demand for such courses in metros and some other big cities.

    In a recent conference on Technical Education in India, I countered the charge that we plan well in India but do not execute or implement, I pointed out, particularly in relation to the recent unplanned expansion of IITs ,that our implementation is not based on good planning.


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