The number of international students continues to increase. Now, confronting international students in the campus is not surprising at all. The more international students attending Chung-ang University, the more international the school can become. Which is why, the school tries to invite many international students. However, we can see many of them going through tough times because of language. Because most major courses are taught in Korean, they hardly understand and catch up with classes. It is ironic because the school attempts to accept many international students but it is not putting much effort to help them adjust well in school life. Is this a true way to make CAU international? It seems like only the number of international students is important.
Luring benefits given to international students
There are several privileges international students get when they enroll in CAU. Firstly, international students are evaluated separately from Korean students. Absolute evaluation, which was abolished in 2009 for Korean students, is still used to evaluate international students. One professor even allowed international students to solve only some of the questions in the midterm exam. Many Korean students were discontented because they thought it is unfair to give international students benefits when they all took the same course. Secondly, they get more scholarships when they enter the school. Among other universities in South Korea, it is only CAU that reduces half of the tuition fee to international students for the whole school year. In addition to that, it is much easier for international students to get scholarships than local students based on grades. They only have to get a grade point average (GPA) higher than 2.5 to get a scholarship. This number, in letter grade, is calculated as just above C+, which is about 30% of students. Korean students, on the other hand, should be in top 10% or get GPA above 4.0 to get scholarship. Comparing the two numbers, it is clear that the school is providing too much money on international students, and even the international students acknowledge that getting scholarship is easy for them. Moreover, all foreign students are provided dormitory rooms while Korean students have to get certain GPA above a cutline to be able to live in the dormitory. Due to these benefits, many international students decide to enter CAU. However, looking deep into their lives, we can find that their lives are not as smooth as expected.
In order to attend universities in South Korea, international students should have the ability to be able to communicate in Korean fluently. It is necessary because they should understand and keep up with classes that are taught in Korean. In the case of CAU, international students are qualified to enroll in the school only if they have acquired level 4 or above in Korean language test, called TOPIK (Test Of Proficiency In Korean). The Korea Institute of Curriculum and Evaluation stated that level 4 is an extent where people can do simple speaking and understand easily written newspaper articles. It seems that the cutline is too low for international students to catch up with courses. This low cutline opens opportunities for foreigners and this may cause the language problems they encounter after enrollment.
It seems like CAU puts effort on merely bringing foreigners into the school and do not care about how they live afterwards. Scholarship, benefits provided regarding grades, and low qualifications to enter the school, all are attractive features that bring international students to study in CAU. However, the high number of international students is finding problems adjusting in university life in Korea due to language problems.
The president, who represents the international students, was elected in Kyunghee University for the first time. The first international student council in Kyunghee University was also established. The president earned more than 95% of votes to win the position. The reason why he was determined to establish an international student council is pretty simple, he stated that there was no such a community that helps welfare of foreign students at the school, and he wanted to help and encourage them. He said the biggest difficulty that many foreign students encounter is clumsy Korean skills. His strongest plan was to make a one on one Korean tutoring system with local students. He hoped the system would help international students solve language problems and help them catch up with classes easily. Similar to the case of Kyunghee University, one of the solutions can be establishing an international student council. There are two reasons why an international student council should be established at CAU. First is, they can make many other friends from various countries in the community. The fact that they are living in a foreign country can combine them all together and form a bond between each other. They can share some information and useful tips about how to live in Korea and how to overcome difficulties arising in school life. Secondly, they can gain good memories by taking part in a student council. Some foreign students might feel isolated from local students due to cultural differences and language problems, but the council may make them feel a sense of being involved in group and unity. Like the tutoring system in Kyunghee University, the similar program would help foreigners improve Korean skills and share their cultures.
The fundamental role of a school is to make students acquire as much knowledge as possible before they graduate. This principle applies to international students as well. Therefore, a more strict method of evaluation is needed. Their grades can be evaluated in absolute evaluation method within themselves, but they should get the same assignments, grading criteria and test papers. Giving them benefits on taking exams should also be banned. In other words, everything is the same as the local students, but their grading method is absolute evaluation within themselves. Moreover, the fact that they can get scholarship if they get GPA above C+ would not help them at all to motivate to study. The cutline is way too low compared to Korean students who study hard to get scholarships. Thus, the cutline has to be elevated in order to make international students motivated to study harder to get the scholarship.
Lastly, the university entrance standards should be enhanced. Getting above level 4 in TOPIK is too easy to get, which is still insufficient to follow classes in Korean. In the case of overseas residents, they should have the highest level, level 6, in order to be qualified to apply to Korea University. This is because KU believes students who lack using Korean skills should get at least level 6 to follow classes. Likewise, CAU should raise the standard so that foreign students would have less problems regarding language at school.
For a true internationalization within CAU, the university entrance standards of foreign students should be more complicated. Also, a change within a school is necessary to help foreign students improve Korean skills after enrollment. CAU should provide more opportunities for international students to adapt well in school life, not only to increase the number of international students and ranked as highly internationalized university, but to go forward to achieve a true internationalization.
< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >