The most regarded right for university students would be the right to learn. Unlike at middle or high school, university requires a huge tuition fee, and thus university should use its tuition fee effectively, so that it can provide students with better quality and quantity classes. If not enough full-time teachers are hired, the professors' service quality can be nothing but reduced. The Department of Creative Writing at Chung-Ang University is suffering from this problem due to a lack of full-time professors. Let's take a closer look at what is really going on.
The Predicament of the Department of Creative Writing
The Department of Creative Writing was taught by seven full-time professors until 2007, but the number of professors has decreased, leaving only four full-time professors in the department. Meanwhile, after the first semester, Professor Park Cheol-hwa left the department, and another professor is facing retirement after reaching the age limit after the second semester. This would leave only two full-time professors in the department for the year 2015. Due to this poor situation, members of the Expansion Operations Committee of the Department of Creative Writing have claimed, "Since few professors take charge of many classes, not only does the lesson quality suffer, but also professors' attention and care for individual students can be much weaker compared to the time when there were seven full-time teachers." The committee added further that, "The right to learn has been seriously invaded." They also argued, "Replacing full-time teachers with part-time instructors cannot be a proper solution because there is a limitation of maintaining school curriculum due to the instability of instructor employment." Despite the concern and predicament of the Department of Creative Writing, the university is not giving any clear solution or explanation.
The Problems Caused by Lack of Full-time Teachers
“Full-time teachers” refers to professors hired into a permanent position by the university and include full-time lecturers, assistant professors, associate professors, and full professors. On the other hand, non full-time teachers refer to part-time lecturers who do not have permanent positions and go to university to university for classes. When only a few full-time professors are hired in relation to the number of students, the service quality of professor can only be reduced. Since professors take charge of student, career and employment counseling, research, and school administration work, it is beyond professors' capacity to take care of too many students. In addition, part-time lecturers tend to have a weaker attachment toward their students compared to full-time professors because the students are not their own, and they cannot continue instructing and teaching for a long and steady period, which is a minus from an academic perspective. A college admission media, Veritas broadcasted, "The greater percentage of full-time teacher securement means the greater educational condition for students. Even though one cannot generalize that greater number of part-time lecturers means the lower quality of education, it cannot be denied that a greater percentage of full-time teacher securement has a positive impact on educational conditions."
When there are not enough full-time professors, large size lectures are inevitable. Since full-time professors stay in a university full time, they can divide up the class and give a lecture twice. However, part-time lecturers or adjunct professors need to move from a university to another university, and thus they have no choice but to perform consecutive or larger sized lectures. Lecturer Kim who teaches liberal arts on Wonju Campus of Yonsei University confessed, "I need to give three hour length, consecutive lectures because I also teach in other universities. In this situation, it is difficult to take care of the assignments of individual students." In order to hold down research and provide great quality lessons with strong attachment to students at the same time, recruiting enough full-time teachers is necessary.
Ignored Legal Number of Full-time Teachers
According to University Foundation Operation Regulation, the number of students per professor should be in humanities and society systems up to 25 students, in natural sciences up to 20 students, in engineering up to 20 students, in art and physical education up to 20 students, and in the medical field, no more than 8 students. The percentage of full-time teacher securement refers to the number of full-time teachers in each university to the legal number of necessary teachers. When the actual numbers of professors meet the number of legal ones, the percentage of full-time teacher securement is 100%. Many educational field experts have said, "A university's percentage of full-time teacher securement is a great indicator of the competence of a university. In order to ensure greater quality university education, a university needs to increase the percentage of full-time teachers."
The percentage of full-time teachers is regionally in the order of this: Gangwon(86.9) Chungcheong(91.0) Gwangju/Jeju (87.2) Gyeongsang (86.4) Gyeonggi/Incheon (85.4) Ulsan/Daegu/Busan (76.0) Daejeon/Sejong (73.1) and Seoul (70.6). It is ironic that most of the dream universities are located in Seoul, even creating the buzz-word 'In-Seoul,' but Seoul has the lowest percentage of full-time teachers. Among the 34 four-year, private universities in Seoul, the only university which met the legal number of full-time teachers was Sungkyunkwan University with 101.2%. Chung-Ang University on the other hand, compared to its recognition, had a very low percentage of full-time teachers. By working on this matter without any more delay, Chung-Ang University will improve its quality and competence overall.
This problem of a lack of full-time teachers tends to worsen in the second campus of universities in Seoul. Some of the universities in Seoul have their second campuses in regions outside of Seoul, but the percentage of full-time teachers and lecturers has a greater gap when comparing that of campuses in Seoul and that of the second campuses. In the case of Chung-Ang University, students per professor for Heukseok Campus in Seoul is 27.9, but that of the second campus in Anseong, it is 43. The percentages of the lectures performed by full-time professors were also different: with Heukseok Campus at 53% and Anseong Campus at 32.4%. This kind of problem is not only limited to Chung-Ang University. For Korea University, the number of students per professor is 25.4 in Ahnam Campus in Seoul, but 33 in Sejong, the second campus.
The Department of Creative Writing, Unresponsive University
This year, the Department of Creative Writing sent an official document requesting the university to secure full-time teachers for the College of Arts administration office, and the student council of the Department of Performing Arts and Media and Department of Fine Art asked the dean of academic affairs the holistic plans for securing full-time teachers. In addition, each student president had several face-to-face talks with the Dean of the College of Arts, but none of them heard of any special plans or answers. The College of Arts, including the Department of Creative Writing, recognizes the problem of the lack of full-time teachers and feels the danger and inconvenience of the situation, so they keep pushing this matter to the university. However, the university head office has not come up with any solution and even shows the attitude of ignoring the request.
When CAH tried to contact the university to hear more about the problem, the university attempted to avoid answering and responded by shifting the responsibility to other departments or positions. This issue has not just occurred today or yesterday. In fact, in 2011, the Department of Creative Writing originally raised the problem to the university and heard from the Education Administration Office of Arts and Physical Education, "We will do our best to guarantee the right to learn for the students by securing full-time teachers in the Department of Creative Wring. However, it has been more than three years since the department suffered from low quantity full-time teachers, but currently even the vacant seats of full-time teachers are in danger of increasing in number. Students of Department of Creative Writing decided to take a stronger action. On September 12th, student council and 100 students visited Heukseok Campus to protest against the current situation. After holding a press conference at the main entrance, they marched to the main building of the university, and the student representatives contacted the dean of academic affairs. Even though the problem is not completely solved, it is a great advance in that the university headquarters started to communicate with their students.
The Department of Creative Writing is in poor condition with the lack of full-time professors. Students' rights for learning should be guaranteed and respected by the university. Unless this fundamental academic aspect of the university is improved, Chung-Ang University's attempt to leap for world class status won't be long lasting. As the university is heading towards becoming the ‘chungang’ (middle) of the world, the headquarters of the university should not only invest in construction of new buildings for the Business and Management Departments but also give its best effort to provide full-time professors for all departments, so that every student can receive high quality lessons and proper counseling.
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