Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Problems Recruiting Professors at SNU

This is more interesting than the last story. It looks like with the heat turned up with fake degrees and Seoul National University's big embarrassment with the Hwang Woo Suk stem cell research cheating they're being more careful about who they hire.

Seoul National University (SNU) is supposed to be the best university in Korea. I don't necessarily agree because I find the evaluations of schools here to be based more on old school connections and legacies than on the quality of research and teaching coupled with an impressive student body. However, I don't know much about this particular university except for a few anecdotes, the lore surrounding it, interaction with students from their GSIS program and their administrative staff.

Seoul National University Fails to Hire Professors

Seoul National University Tuesday failed to hire engineering professors as all the applicants were deemed unqualified.

It was the first time for the nation’s most prestigious university to reject applicants for the six engineering and science professors.

About 40 people applied but none of them met the screening guidelines, the school said.

A school spokesman said many talented Ph.d. holders in science and engineering shun applying to the state-run university due to the low compensation package.

Last March, the university announcement the recruitment of seven professors at colleges of science and engineering for the second semester.

The five departments included the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Department of Material Science and Engineering; and Department of Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering.

Last June, the college of science and engineering also invited applicants for the position of dean, and professors from other universities were allowed to apply for the first time _ but all the eight applicants were from SNU.

Many cited that the failure illustrates a crisis in education at colleges of science and engineering.

"A bad tradition in the college of science and engineering is a problem," said Kim Doh-yeon, a dean of the college of science and engineering. "Once you are hired as a professor, you will get the same amount of salary regardless of how big a breakthrough you make in your studies and are treated as other professors"

Successful candidates who study abroad and gain academic achievements do not want to return to Korean universities, Kim said.

Universities need to be like a market where competition makes products better and attracts customers, he said.

This is a big issue with name universities here and a part of globalization that subjects them to international competition. Also, with Korea's drive to increase its appeal as a place for foreigners to live and do business they've got upgrade the education options from top to bottom.

As I've said before, I used to work for one of the big three. The attitude was "We're great!So just be happy you work here, peasant!" Of course, with an attitude like that you don't stay happy for long. Their compensation package at the time was competitive. I knew that SNU's was not and never bothered to apply.

That's part of the problem as the article says. I also think it's the attitude that they don't have to compete for talent because of who they are.

But they have to realize that outside of Korea very few people care to even come here much less apply, as none of Korea's major universities even register on worldwide rankings. In Korea that's usually okay in the EFL/ESL market. For foreign English instructors the market is ripe with people who'll take the crappy job at the big name uni as well as crappy jobs just about anywhere else. Believe me, it makes for some pretty dull conversations with most English teachers here.

However, this happened in the engineering and sciences field. Those people are in very high demand. Thus, SNU has been looking for awhile and they'll continue to look until they evaluate the market and adjust not only their benefits but policies accordingly.

I find that my best job is the one I have now which is at a small college where both the professors and the administration are more humble, wonderfully organized, and are just easier to work with.

Y'all can have the big names. They're a bit too big, autocratic and conceited for their own good.


Two holdout professors explain what they think the problems are: Why Even SNU Is Seeing a Brain Drain (ChosunIlbo)

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