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  • Posts Tagged ‘education’

    Does South Korea Have the Smartest Kids?: 5 Things to Consider

    October 3rd, 2013  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    1. Greed to be degreed?: Korea has the highest percentage of young people with high school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees among the member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), according to a survey published last month. Ninety-eight percent of Koreans aged 25-34 graduated from high school as of 2011 while 64 percent graduated from college or graduate school, according to the OECD. It was the fifth straight year South Korea topped the list in terms of high school education and the fourth consecutive year it ranked No. 1 in college education.
    Analysis: South Korea has transformed from a country that was undereducated to a modern economy that is arguably overeducated—meaning that the country’s supply of highly educated graduates greatly outnumbers the demand for such graduates (from a very narrow bandwidth of domestic South Korean firms, namely the large conglomerates, such as Samsung, Hyundai, and LG, to name a few).
    2. Korean education isn’t cheap, but is it worth it?: Such achievements at the national level comes with costs and negative socio-economic externalities. Annual tuitions at Korean universities in 2011 averaged $5,395, the fourth highest among 25 countries, following Ireland at $6,450, Chile’s $5,885 and the United States’ $5,402. The survey found that tuition rates at South Korea’s private universities were the fourth-highest, trailing only behind the U.S., Slovenia and Australia.
    Analysis: Given South Korea’s GDP per capita, and factoring in purchasing power parity (PPP), the country’s tuition rates are considerably high. But education is an investment. Thus, so long as one’s education investment has a reasonable return on investment (ROI), then such investment (and thus relatively high tuition rates) should be reasonable. However, this is an open question, given the current job market in which the graduation employment rates of most of South Korea’s top universities are in the 60-70 percentile range.
    3. Going private for basic education: Private Cram School spending is a near necessity: Under Korea’s fiercely competitive education system, Koreans have become used to paying for supplementary education from private cram schools, or hagwon.
    The survey showed that Korea spent 7.6 percent of its gross domestic product on education as of 2010, the third-highest following Denmark at 8 percent and Iceland at 7.7 percent. But it was top of the list in terms of private spending on public education (as opposed to government spending), which accounted for 2.8 percent of its gross domestic product, three times higher than the OECD average of 0.9 percent.
    Analysis: The near necessity to need financing for private education above and beyond what is needed for public education sends some worrisome signals. First, that the public education K-12 structure is not working properly (i.e., not pareto efficient). Second, that the need for such additional private education will increase South Korea’s already prevalent gap between the haves and have-nots. Economically, this is non-optimal since all of South Korea’s human capital is not being put to good use. And socially, such effect can lead to a feeling of detachment and even backlash, in which a sense by many among the nation’s youth of the “Korean dream” may be just that—a mere dream.
    4. Higher education meets higher tuition: There has been growing public concern over high college tuitions, prompting the government to spend more on scholarships and restrict yearly increases in tuition rate to 4.7 percent, down from a previous restriction of 5 percent in 2012.
    Analysis: Scholarships for students are a fairly recent phenomenon in South Korea, compared to places like the U.S., UK, and Australia (based on the traditional collectivist mindset that one’s family should shoulder such responsibility). But with ever-increasing tuition rates, the need for greater scholarships are much needed.
    5. More education with less need for financing: One of President Park Geun-hye’s presidential campaign pledges was to reduce college tuition by 50 percent, while the Education Ministry pledged to be able to give scholarships to all students in the bottom 30 percent.
    Analysis: More funding should be allocated towards this end. This is especially the case since South Korea’s greatest asset is its people (i.e., thus, greater human capital investment would prove beneficial, particularly in a country with a shrinking population and exceedingly low birth rates). However, such pledge was during President Park’s pre-presidency campaign efforts. So it is yet to be seen whether such words will culminate into action. If so, it will be welcomed by many.
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    Education: The Rise of South Korea’s “corporate colleges” (Asia-Pacific Global Research Group – blog report)

    November 28th, 2012  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    1. LG Electronics as well as Hyundai Department store, two of the most prominent Korean conglomerates, opened their so-called “corporate colleges” last month. And I’m sure this sounds pretty foreign to many of us… Could you tell us a little bit about what these are?

    Students attending these so-called “corporate colleges” typically spend half of their day studying regular subjects and the other half working or receiving specialized job training. Accepted students are promised to have a full-time job at the company when they graduate. Most if not all of the programs are highly subsidized, sometimes free of charge.
    As one example, Hyundai Department Store will offer up to 450 hours of classes a year focused on teaching knowledge and skills necessary for retail workers. Hyundai’s corporate college has already accepted 31 high school graduates and has promised to hire them on a full-time basis after they complete the two-year program, which starts next year. The corporate college also offers a graduate-school-level program specializing in marketing, setting a new precedent. LG Electronics has decided to run 14 programs for 1,500 trainees a year.
    2. Are these corporate college programs linked to private sector Korean corporates backed by the government? What’s the government’s response to these novel institutions of education?
    South Korea’s Ministry of Employment and Labor is very supportive and cooperative. . Labor Minister Lee Chae-pil has stated: “Schools like these will help recruiters focus more on the practical abilities of job applicants [rather than just looking at their educational background]… We encourage large companies to build a quality labor force through operating such educational facilities.” The same Ministry plans to cover at least 80 percent of the education fees. It has also given the companies the freedom to weight the content of their curricula in favor of their specific industry or niche. The government is preparing to open up to eight more corporate colleges this year. “We want to show job seekers who only have a high school education that they can still pursue higher education while working,” said Park Sang-yoon, an official at the Labor Ministry’s human resources department.
    3. Are there other examples of models resembling ‘corporate colleges’ in different countries that are trying to deal with similar problems of unemployment and underemployment? Or is this a unique case?
    Corporate colleges outside of South Korea are still the exception, rather than the norm. But examples still exist. For instance, Pearson, the parent company for the Financial Times newspaper will launch Pearson College beginning September 2013. Admitted students will be given internships and a mentor, which will most likely link with Pearson’s many subsidiaries. Students still must pay tuition, but they are granted a final degree, validated by the University of London.
    4. What are some potential practical problems that you foresee with an alternative education system like this?

    Corporate colleges do not award an official degree, so it is no guarantee of getting a job at companies outside the one sponsoring the school. The education will also be very industry and company specific. So the skill sets learned will probably not be very transferable to other companies in and outside the industry. Still, a subsidized education linked with internship and job prospects will be very appealing for many, but not all, parts of the population.
    5. Do you think the attention and governmental support that corporate colleges are receiving, in conjunction with the bad rap traditional universities are getting for low employment figures among graduates, etc, will pressure those standard universities to take on reforms? If so, what kind?

    For many South Korean universities, the perception will be that corporate colleges are not a threat, namely for the reasons stated earlier, particularly that no degree is conferred to students. However, many local universities are becoming more focused on practical training. But this can be a challenge since many faculty are theory-based, rather than practice-based. The challenge is to blend both together for the benefit of the student (and future member of the global working population).
    6. As an educator and as someone who writes and speaks about education, does this give you cause for concern — the corporatization of education? Education being, in a way, defined and subsidized by moneyed interests?
    It does not. Rather, it gives hope to those who may not normally be able to receive education beyond high school, especially for the economically disenfranchised. In our free market system, the more choices the better. If the system of corporate colleges don’t work, then it can be eliminated later on.

    Education: MOOCs as “Weapons of Mass Instruction” and South Korea – 6 Considerations

    November 21st, 2012  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    1) So the era of technology is seemingly transforming higher education. How does this massive open online courses, or MOOCs work?
    Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are free online courses that are meant to attract a large audience base, whereby any person anywhere in the world can watch and participate. So basically, any person with internet access and a PC can get up on the learning curve relating to select offered courses. Often, these courses are taught by world-renown scholars and academics from such institutions as Stanford, MIT, and Ivy League institutions. Some of the leading MOOC providers include Udacity, Coursera, and EdX. 
    2) When and how did MOOCs begin? How popular are these massive online classes?
    The conceptual idea behind MOOCs has been around since the early 1960s. But the “real world” usage of MOOCs are a very recent phenomenon. MIT represents one “early mover” academic institution with the launching of its “MIT Open Courseware” platform, in which any person with internet access could tap into hundreds of pre-recorded lectures, including some of MIT’s most popular courses and professors, which has recently led to MITx in March 2012. But the “breakout” began about a year ago in the Fall of 2011, in which 160,000 students from all over the world signed up for an artificial intelligence (AI) MOOC course offered by two Stanford professors. The same professors saw the potential upside of this teaching platform–which had the potential to influence and impact more students in a course than those in all their previous courses combined–and partnered to form Udacity, one of the leading MOOC providers today.
    3) What and who would you say are the main benefits and benefitters from such MOOC’s? Students? Professors? MOOC providers?
    MOOC benefits include:
    – free or very cheap fees to access the course
    – close physical/geographic proximity unnecessary
    – crowdsourcing via peer review and group session can be used at a massive scale
    – potential to influence a much larger audience
    – ability to receive feedback from wider array of students
    – become part of the solution in terms of educating those who may normally not have access to education
    MOOC providers:
    – relevance in the education market
    – potential future revenue sourcing
    – hub for education at all levels
    4) What are the potential damages through the rapid spread of MOOCs? Do offering such wholesale-type online courses dilute the elite college-level status for top universities?
    Potential MOOC downsides:
    – virtual learning platform can be unfamiliar and intimidating
    – potential for plagiarism
    – high dropout rate (thus far, albeit it is still early in the MOOC era)
    – a certain level of digital platform knowledge is needed
    5) What sort of challenges do the professors involved in online teaching face?
    The main challenge is not having instant feedback from your teaching methods. It’s a bit akin to doing your craft in front of a recorded camera for a movie as opposed to a live audience in a theater production. Having said this, often there is a great amount of feedback after the course is posted online, often with much more scale and scope than with a traditional class given the scalability of the MOOC platform.
    Everyone, including professors, are trying to stay current in a constantly changing environment. Since the widespread use of internet, companies such as Google and Facebook have changed the digital landscape dramatically. And the thinking is that with MOOCs, much like Google’s mandate of democratizing information by making it free, some in academic circles believe that education should also be democratized and made free to help close the gap between the haves and have-nots.
    6) Can you give us a rough sense of how widespread and appreciated online courses are here in Korea?

    Korean universities have not yet fully adopted MOOCs or even previously existing platforms such as Youtube. But one thing about Korea is that it is often a “fast follower,” especially in the technology field. For instance, the TEDx concept has been hugely popular here. And hopefully, some enterprising entrepreneurs will take advantage of this opportunity and transform it into something that is potentially game changing. So in short, hope exists that Korea’s academic institutions can catch up and even become a leading player in the MOOC era.