KU The Future
The dream of entering the world’s top 50, now a giant stride closer
No entity's status can be elevated all at once. Even though some things may appear to have suddenly emerged fully formed, it soon becomes clear on closer inspection that their capacities have been growing for some time. This is the case for KU, whose position of 86th in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2018 is the fruit of 113 years of academic development and ambition. The Evaluation Team of the Office of Planning & Budget share their perspective on the present and the future of ‘World KU’, in light of the latest QS rankings.
QS Evaluation, an objective basis for demonstrating international status
Pride in accomplishment, daily progress and monthly advances, and winning victory after victory - these are some of the expressions that describe the current condition of KU. As the university's status has risen higher and higher in the world, its momentum is extraordinary. Since being ranked the 145th best university in the world in 2013, KU has demonstrated continuous advances, leaping 59 positions in the rankings within 5 years. The 2018 position of 86th is the highest rank ever achieved by a private Korean university. Since entering the top 100 in 2016 for the first time, KU has continued to move forward, outstripping competing universities. This is the reason why the expression ‘breasting the wave’ should be added to describe KU.
QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) is a prestigious English institution that evaluates universities worldwide, having done so since 2004. This year, no fewer than 4,763 universities were evaluated. Over 83,000 researchers and 43,000 employers around the world participated in the process, making it a fair and reliable international standard. The QS World University Rankings evaluate the capacities of world universities based on six indices, namely researcher reputation, employer reputation, citation counts per faculty member, faculty-student ratio, foreign faculty ratio, and foreign student ratio. Regarding a university's research output, cited articles are evaluated in terms of whether they reflect issues that are of current importance, along with the quality of the research. The QS ranking does not rely on mere quantitative measures, but is instead an international-standard evaluation of the quality of education and research demonstrated by a university, as well as its level of internationalization. This is why the QS World University Rankings is considered objective data on the international status of KU and other institutions, and not a merely quantitative ranking competition.
“When the world’s most respected universities seek to determine which other institutions they would like to develop interchanges with, those institutions' QS ranking are a significant basis for their decision-making. A university's QS ranking has significant influence on not only the future of its graduates in terms of their employment prospects and studies abroad, but also on the range of respected universities which want to partner with them. When the international status of a university is high, it becomes easier to attract foreign students. As long as KU continues to focus on both the development of our research capacities and our international reputation, there will be more opportunities for our students to grow intellectually in tandem with talented students from around the world,” said Jae Wook Kim, Vice President for Planning and Budget, with great pride in his voice.
From the top private Korean university to a KU of the world
The Evaluation Team in the Office of Planning and Budget assesses and works to enhance the factors that play a role in the world university ranking of KU. The team's Vice President Jae Wook Kim, the Administrative Director Young Jae Lee, the Evaluation Team Manager Jung Ho Lee, the Senior Administrative Officers Soon Dol Park and Song Yi Park, and the Administrative Officer Myung Ah Park are collectively in charge of this task in each of their respective positions.
“There are three parts to the work of the Evaluation Team. First, relevant domestic and foreign quantitative indicators are collated for the public announcement of university information, and through speedy SWOT analysis, the strengths and weaknesses of KU are analyzed so that problems observed in terms of each indicator can be addressed. Second, qualitative indicators such as big data based image analysis or domestic and foreign reputation are assessed. In order to do so, we attempt to identify the various capacities of KU and collate this information in the form of manageable data, which can be utilized in our evaluation. We also put effort into public relations. Third, after our evaluation of KU's domestic and foreign dimensions, we provide the results to the relevant offices in order to establish a baseline for the achievement of better performance. Our evaluation is not a mere academic exercise, but provides the foundation for the development of KU, as we strive to diagnose and analyze our current status,” said Jung Ho Lee, the Evaluation Team Manager. Even in light of such a brief explanation, it is apparent that KU has a thorough self-evaluation system.
The Evaluation Team identifies the balanced growth of KU's ‘researcher reputation’ and ‘employer reputation’ as the primary criteria that led to the university's higher rank on the QS World University Rankings 2018. Their evaluation clearly demonstrated that not only is KU’s research capability highly regarded by domestic and foreign academia, but the excellence of KU graduates is also being increasingly recognized by domestic and foreign corporations. As a result, KU's employer reputation on the 2018 QS Evaluation was 58th, 8 positions higher than last year. In terms of other domestic evaluation criteria, KU has maintained the highest position among Korean universities in terms of its graduates’ reputation and career
advancement, and it confirmed its status as the top private university in Korea by placing higher in the rankings than 69th-ranked Sungkyunkwan University and 71st-ranked Yonsei University. Another evaluative dimension centers around qualitative developments internal to KU. The research-related ranking has been improved greatly, with the citation count per faculty member leaping as many as 18 positions. As a result, it can now truly be said that KU is a research-centered university. Following the establishment of the position of Executive Vice President for Research, the Office of Research Management and the Office of Research Planning have effectively divided important tasks between them, which also played a part in the a significant climb in the research ranking. In conjunction with KU-FRG, support has been provided to creative and challenging research projects to be conducted without time limits or other restrictions, and the number of international research exchanges has expanded through joint research agreements, made as a result of the signing of research cooperation MOUs with respected foreign universities. These efforts have resulted in the improvement of KU's research capacities and culture, which in turn have strongly enhanced the motivation and commitment of KU researchers. Therefore the Evaluation Team has forecasted that the university's research index ranking will continue to rise in the future.
KU's success in carrying forward its internationalization agenda was also an important aspect that influenced its rise in the rankings. The foreign student ratio was the index that displayed the largest leap in the 2018 QS Evaluation. KU has been putting huge effort into internationalizing the campus since 2005, putting forward ‘Global KU’ as the new goal during its centenary year. Since then 13 years have passed, and KU has grown into the largest global campus in Korea, with over 5,900 foreign students from 115 countries attending the school today. It should be noted that KU did not stop at merely increasing the number of foreign students, but provided a firm basis for them to comfortably adapt to university life in Korea by establishing the Korean Language Center, the Global Services Center, and the Institute for Global Education. This is the true meaning of internationalization, incorporating balanced development in terms of both the quality and quantity of available services.
With History at Our Side, Striding Together towards the Future
One other notable aspect of the QS Evaluation was KU's rapid ascent in the field of engineering & technology. From 66th position last year, the university's rank climbed to 48th this year, with KU thereby entering the top 50 in this respect. In particular, in the field of machinery & aeronautical engineering, KU has climbed 12 positions since last year, resulting in a rank of 47th, which demonstrates the significance this field plays in engineering & technology. In the field of social science & business administration, traditionally the strong suit of KU, the university ranked 32nd this year, up 7 places, thereby further enhancing the status of KU. Finally, in terms of the arts and humanities, KU submitted its art & design department for evaluation for the first time this year, raising expectations for its future development.
▲From left, Senior Administrative Officer Song Yi Park, Administrative Officer Myung Ah Park, Administrative Director Young Jae Lee, Vice President Jae Wook Kim, Evaluation Team Manager Jung Ho Lee, and Senior Administrative Officer of the Office of Planning and Budget Soon Dol Park
“KU has established step-by-step strategic goals and undertaken specific tasks as part of our plan to become a ‘Global Top 50’ university by 2030,” said Administrative Director Young Jae Lee. “KU is also in the process of establishing a ‘flowback system’ through which the outcomes of given tasks are regularly monitored and improved upon. The interdisciplinary convergence research that KU is currently engaged in will hasten the path to ‘World KU’. “I am certain that the changes being made in our educational infrastructure and systems, aimed at developing hugely talented professionals who are ready to contribute to the Fourth Industrial Revolution by focusing on ‘capacity’ rather than knowledge, will become the engine propelling forward our vision of becoming a Global Top 50 university.” On hearing Administrative Director Lee’s eloquence, all the members of the Evaluation Team nodded. Vice President Jae Wook Kim then talked about how KU's heritage of shared values and commitment has made the wide open future possible.
“There is something we should not forget when we talk about the QS Evaluation. That is, today’s accomplishment was possible because all the members and friends of the school have given their all in their own ways. Our ranking in the 2018 QS Evaluation is not the result of only the last few years. It is the fruit of the academic development of KU that has come to fruition over the 113 years of our history. We, who are the latest chapter in that long, shared history, are all part of today’s success.” A dream dreamt together becomes a reality. The dream of becoming a global top 50 university, the vision in which plays their part, is waiting to become our reality.