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Discourse Regarding the Reformation of the Semester System
Public Hearing at the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus (skkuw.com)

A public hearing was held at the Humanities and Social campus of Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) on September 10th – a follow-up to the hearing held five days earlier at SKKU’s Natural Science campus. The two events were hosted with the intent of discussing a new system SKKU is planning on implementing by the beginning of the next semester. The implementation of this paradigm shift entails a change that must be made in students’ future schedules; the new system suggests a longer, three-month summer break, which will affect the winter break and cut that down to about one month and a half. In addition to this, both spring and fall semesters will have to be cut down to 15 weeks from the current 16 weeks.

Topics Discussed

(1) Wider Global Opportunities

SKKU believes that implementing this new system would be a great way to maximize the utilization of summer breaks. Extending the initial two-month summer vacation to three months would provide a longer period of time for students to participate in extra-curricular activities. The university plans on providing global opportunities for students to take up during this time, and these include co-op programs, internships, and exchange student programs. SKKU is trying to avoid situations wherein their students’ in-country schedules conflict with their willingness to participate in programs abroad, and thus believes that this adjustment will be very beneficial to students.

(2) On-campus Activities

In addition to expanding students’ global opportunities, SKKU plans on integrating a new summer program to target students who are uninterested in venturing globally and would rather spend their summer break in-country. Currently, the plan is to hold three one-month summer sessions in total, with the hopes of providing students ample preparation for the proceeding fall semester. The summer sessions will be focusing on broad, general topics such as artificial intelligence and big data that are necessary for students living within a generation ruled by technological advancements. SKKU is convinced that these ventures will not only benefit Korean students, but international students as well. The university proposed holding cultural exchange programs on campus, wherein foreign students would be able to learn more about Korean culture and history, as well as opening Korean language classes for those that may need it.

Conflicting Opinions of the Student Body

While change may bring many positive effects, there are quite a number of problems to this new system that have been overlooked by the university. In contrast to the positive light SKKU is shining on this subject, the news was not received all too well by the student body. According to an open survey conducted by Sparkle, SKKU’s 51st student council, from September 1st to September 9th, 1,673 out of 2,133 students – which calculates to approximately 78.4% – were against the implementation of the new semester system. Thereafter, many students have raised problems that would arise from this sudden change and are speaking out that a more thorough consideration of the consequences would be necessary before any drastic changes are implemented. The majority of students that attended the hearing were in favor of the system’s application be delayed, while the university persistently insisted that it would be wrong of them to hold out on these opportunities, especially when many students would be able to gain immediate benefits from the quick improvements. SKKU acknowledged the particular problems that may arise from this new system but pushed the stance that the polishing of details can be made afterwards. The students, on the other hand, believe that improvements to the system must be made before the university should even consider implementing in the first place.

Final Verdict

On the 27th of September, Sparkle released an announcement on their main Facebook page regarding the final decision made by SKKU. The university has decided that it would be best to delay implementing the new semester system and has postponed it for another year. The new system will come into action in the spring semester of year 2021, instead of the originally intended spring semester of year 2020. The first week of classes will begin a week in advance, and February 22nd will mark the beginning of that particular year’s spring semester. The university has taken into account most of the complaints that were brought up by the students, and Sparkle assures the student body that further discussion will ensure between them and the school, in order to find an adequate solution to alleviate each and every worry.

이슬  leesleisabel@gmail.com

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