Nineteen institutions have passed the first round of a process to win a multibillion-won fund over the next five years, part of an ambitious government initiative to enhance the competitiveness of higher education outside the Seoul metropolitan area.
Led by the Ministry of Education, the Glocal University 30 project is one of the Yoon Suk Yeol administration’s biggest efforts to support universities outside the greater Seoul area as the number of applications falls amid the nation’s population decline.
The Seoul metropolitan area, or greater Seoul, refers to Seoul, Incheon, and Gyeonggi.
Winners of the Glocal University 30 project will each receive 100 billion won ($78 million) in funding for five years. Ten winners will be chosen this year and next, while five winners will be chosen in 2025 and 2026, totaling 30 winners receiving a total of 3 trillion won.
The Ministry of Education said 108 institutions applied to Glocal University 30, or around 65 percent of the 166 schools that were eligible. Among the applicants, 13 were coalitions.
Of the 19 institutions chosen for the second round, four are coalitions: Kangwon National University and Gangneung-Wonju National University; Pusan National University and Busan National University of Education; Andong National University and Gyeongbuk Provincial College; and Chungbuk National University and Korea National University of Transportation.
The rest are Gyeongsang National University; Sunchon National University; Soonchunhyang University; Yonsei University Mirae Campus; University of Ulsan; Inje University; Chonnam National University; Jeonbuk National University; Postech; Handong Global University; and Hallym University.
All but Gyeongbuk Provincial College are four-year universities.
There were no schools selected from Daejeon, Daegu, Sejong, or Jeju Island.
Most of the universities selected in the first round described plans to drastically overhaul their academic systems by removing the barriers between different majors and allowing students to study in a more convergent environment, according to the Education Ministry.
A ministry official who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity Tuesday said the government chose schools based on how much they were willing to “innovate,” adding that many flagship national universities were selected because they had the best “integration and innovation models.”
There are nine flagship national universities in Korea, one in each province and major city except for Seoul. They are all four-year national universities and are widely perceived as the best in their region.
The four coalitions and 11 universities, along with their respective local government offices and regional industries, now have until September to submit a more detailed action plan to the Education Ministry. Of these, only 10 will be selected as the final winners in October.
Handong Global University in Pohang, North Gyeongsang, vowed to establish a “one college” system that guarantees students the freedom to choose whichever major they like. As part of this plan, the university said it would integrate all 14 of its schools.
Soonchunhyang University in Asan, South Chungcheong, said it would abolish 10 colleges and 50 majors, reorganizing them into four “universities” and 40 “minor major” programs. Under this plan, all faculty members will not be affiliated with a particular department or major.
Postech in Pohang vowed to operate as a university without any departments, offering a curriculum heavily focused on interdisciplinary education.
BY LEE SUNG-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]