In 2010, a university docent committed suicide due to his frustration after being forced to write a thesis by a professor. Since then, there has been a lot of effort to improve the poor treatment of docents.
The revision of the higher education act, as known as ‘University Docent Law’, has been put into action since August 1, 2019. The purpose of the law is to stabilize employment and improve treatment for university docents.
According to the law, ① the docents are given the same status as teaching staff, ② schools must appoint docents for at least a year, ③ a three-year reappointment process should be guaranteed, ④ schools must pay wages during the vacation, ⑤ the docents should receive a retirement payment and four major insurance policies, and ⑥ the docents should be hired fairly by open employment.
The purpose of the bill was good, and it seemed to work out well until new problems arose recently. A school's budget is limited, and the financial burden on docents has increased.
According to KCUE(Korean Council for University Education), when the bill passes, it will cost an additional 300 billion won a year for a school. However, the Ministry of Education gives in aid only 55 billion won of the budget annually.
The majority of Korean universities have decided to reduce the number of docents, and this has led to an absolute shortage of classes. The enforcement ordinance of the Education Ministry also came out late and delayed the process of public recruitment, which affected the application of classes. It caused students to apply for classes without knowing of the study plan and their professor.
Daegu University was also not free from the bill. Several students have complained about their situation. L.L.F conducted a short interview with a student from Daegu University.
L.L.F: What was the inconvenience of signing up for classes this semester?
A: It was really frustrating because I applied for a class that did not have the professor's name written on it.
L.L.F: Why was it so frustrating?
A: It is a class that I really think is important but there was no class plan, not to mention the professor's name. I wanted to know at least what I will be learning and how the class would be conducted.
L.L.F: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. I hope that it will work out soon.
A: So do I. I also couldn’t sign up for compulsory courses, because they are preferential to freshmen. The rest of the students from sophomores to seniors can enter the remaining spots once freshmen have finished signing up.
Deepak Chopra, a famous doctor and writer, once said, “All great changes are preceded by chaos.” However, a single change can be interpreted from a variety of perspectives and cause a disagreement. With the efforts of everybody, it is time to narrow the gap between the conditions and find a solution.
L.L.F Reporter Suk-ho Jung