Future of University Pursued with Global Partners
Although their achievements have been relatively less well known to the Korean people, Nordic countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland are regarded as IT or design powerhouses on the global stage. Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, which form the Benelux Union, have been traditionally regarded as the center of Europe. Small but respected colleges and research centers in the fields of design, medical care, pharmacology and mechanical engineering are based in these three neighboring states.
KU President, Jaeho Yeom, who attended the 1st conference of ENUC, expressed his hopes for the partnership. “We need to open a whole new chapter in the field of education that is based on academic integration and interdisciplinary exchanges. I hope that today’s conference will serve as an opportunity for us to form a strong partnership between institutions in European and East Asian countries. Let us take full advantage of our potential and create a great synergy out of our collective capabilities,” he said.
Rector of the University of Helsinki, Jukka Kola, saw enormous promise in the partnership. “Investment in education made by colleges has a clear positive impact on all of our futures. If we focus on developing educational offerings by utilizing modern technologies such as the Internet, there will be more opportunities for cooperation in future,” said the rector. He continued, “We need to be flexible. The future paths of our students will be transformed depending on how adaptable universities are. The education that our younger generations receive will have a direct impact on society.” He also added that the University of Helsinki is planning to launch an entrepreneurship program in every department. “I hope that our partner universities will join us and benefit from it.”
Rik Torfs, Rector of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven), located in Belgium, shared his thoughts on the responsibilities and influence of universities. “When we talk about the roles of universities in the future, we should not divide them into different categories such as their educational and research components, and their social responsibilities. A broader and more complex point of view should be adopted which encompasses and integrates all of our roles.” He continued by saying that, “The performance of universities can only be evaluated by universities themselves. That is one of the essential goals of university collaboration. In our society, an administration or a government lasts for only five years on average, but universities have a greater and more sustained influence if we take a long-term view.”
Shuji Hashimoto, Senior Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs of Waseda University in Japan, expressed his willingness to continue his institution's pursuit of a new paradigm in education. “Universities in Japan have had increasing demands placed on them by civil society and government. It is, of course, important that universities should listen to the greatest possible range of voices in society, but it should not be forgotten that we must also focus unrelentingly on devising measures that address challenges facing future generations,” he said.
KU Latin American Outreach Bears Fruit
The Latin American region is regarded as rich in opportunities, and Korea University is leading the way towards a greater range of academic exchanges with the continent. Latin America is a massive market and base of economic production. With a population of more than 600 million people, the region has a population growth rate higher than the world average. The fact that Spanish is spoken across almost the entire continent is also a very tempting facet of the region to those who are searching for growth opportunities.
Seeing great value and limitless potential in Latin America, Korea University has been developing its “Latin America Project” for the past three years, which mainly focuses on inviting talented students from the region to the university. As part of the project, KU President Jaeho Yeom visited three Andean states – Peru, Columbia and Ecuador – last January and signed agreements with academic institutions which entail these countries sponsoring students to study at Korea University in study-abroad programs. The agreements stipulate that, by 2020, Korea University will annually invite 200 undergraduate students and 300 graduate students from the Latin American region. In addition, the Latin America Global Leadership Program, slated for launch this winter, will facilitate KU students’ studies in Latin America, where they can learn the Spanish language and gain first-hand experience of Latin American culture.
Through ENUC and the Latin America Project, together with the China Global Leadership Program that has already been established, Korea University is expanding its reach into the world regardless of region, including Latin America, Russia and Japan. The university sees this focus as a way of helping fulfill the potential of scholars and researchers who are questing and adventurous. These are the ideal attributes of the caliber of student that KU has been in pursuit of, qualities that have become synonymous with the “Knowledge Nomads” of the 21st century, who seek new knowledge no matter where they are and regardless of their current intellectual focus.