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확대축소프린트
 Kim Chan-ju
The Present State of CBNU and KNUT Integration Discussion
제 211 호    발행일 : 2023.09.04 
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  As the competitiveness of local universities weakens due to the decrease in the school age population and the concentration of population in the metropolitan areas, the need for university innovation is emerging. Accordingly, the government plans to select 30 universities in non-metropolitan areas with the will and capabilities of innovation through the Glocal University 30 project and provide KRW 100 billion to each university over a period of five years to grow them into world-class universities. CBNU applied for this project as a team on the premise of integrating with KNUT (Korea National University of Transportation), and was selected as one of the 15 universities that received the first preliminary designation on June 20. Then, how is the discussion on integrating CBNU and KNUT going? CBT reporters covered the discussion on integration, which is currently the biggest issue in CBNU.

Background of the integration discussion

  According to a report titled “The Present and Future of University Restructuring” by the Korea Higher Education Research Institute, it was analyzed that only universities in the metropolitan area and national universities in the non-metropolitan area could accommodate all students who want to go to university in 2040 due to a decrease in the school age population. As the number of students who wish to attend universities in the metropolitan area increases, innovation at CBNU is essential to strengthen competitiveness and survive. Currently, CBNU has chosen innovation through integration with KNUT rather than internal innovation. Is there a limit to CBNU’s own internal innovation? CBNU President Koh Chang-seop said, “As a national university, CBNU needs to train a lot of manpower in the main specialized fields of Chungcheongbuk-do. Otherwise, CBNU cannot receive any support from the central and local governments. CBNU needs specialization. However, it is very difficult to do with Gaesin campus. Since all departments are important, it is impossible to create a specialized university by subtracting the number of people in a specific department. In the process of integrating with KNUT, we will use professors and students T/O to specialize.” This means that there is a limit to internal innovation because it is difficult to adjust personnel between departments without integration.
  Therefore, why did CBNU determine to integrate with KNUT? Other national and public universities in Chungcheongbuk-do include KNUE (Korea National University of Education) and CNUE (Cheongju National University of Education), as well as KNUT. President Koh said, “CNUE has 60 to 70 professors, so if CBNU merges with CNUE, there will be no big difference compared to the current size of CBNU. KNUE is the best teacher training university in the country, and it will naturally promote to teachers across the country when integrated. Therefore, it is attractive as a target for integration into CBNU. However, it is difficult to expand the financial scale due to the small number of students.” Considering the size, number of students, and finances of the university, President Koh decided that KNUT was the most suitable for integration. This is not the opinion of the president alone. According to CBNU Faculty Assembly’s “Study for Future Development Plans of CBNU,” 52.2% of general professors at CBNU chose KNUT when asked, “If CBNU integrates with other national or public universities in Chungcheongbuk-do, which national or public university do you think is most appropriate?” Next, 24.6% of professors chose KNUE, and 19.6% chose CNUE. Looking at the admission quota for freshman in 2022 at flagship national universities, CBNU ranks eighth with 2,806 students among nine flagship national universities. Kyungpook National University, which has the largest number of admissions, has 4,629 students. In case of integration with KNUT, CBNU’s admission quota will be 4,717, which can be expanded to a level similar to other large flagship national universities.

Not a matter of scale, but a matter of internal stability?

  Therefore, do universities really develop when they increase their size? Not necessarily. According to a report titled “The Light and Darkness of the ten Years of Integration, the Past and Future of the Samcheok Campus” by the Samcheok branch of the 15th Kangwon National University council in 2017, it was analyzed that “After integration, the external size was improved. However, the designation of restructuring-focused universities and the D grade in the university education competency evaluation over the past ten years prove the negative effects of integration.”
  According to the Ministry of Education’s Higher Education in Korea service official notification, the size of UOS (University of Seoul) is between 10,000 and 15,000 and the size of CBNU is between 15,000 and 20,000. CBNU is larger than UOS. On the other hand, in the QS World University Rankings, UOS ranks in the top 800 and CBNU ranks in the top 1,200. That is, UOS is rated better than CBNU. This is another case in which the expansion of scale does not necessarily lead to the improvement of university competitiveness.

Why is CBNU’s research performance level low?

  CBNU acknowledged its lack of research ability by writing in the Glocal University 30 innovation proposal that the international research performance per full-time faculty member was insufficient compared to the average of other national universities. Regarding the reason why CBNU’s research performance is lower than the average of other national universities, President Koh said, “It is not because our professors’ research capabilities are low. There are many cases where people who have fallen from the flagship national universities are appointed as professors at Seoul National University. However, the reason why the research performance is declining is because it is not easy to secure graduate freshman, so professors cannot properly utilize their research competencies.” He continued, “In CBNU’s budget of about KRW 320 billion, the president can spend about KRW four billion for the development of the university, excluding professors and staff personnel costs. Developing internal stability is important, but it is realistically difficult to develop internal stability with KRW four billion” emphasizing financial hardship. Regarding the plan to increase research competency, President Koh said, “One of the goals of the glocal university project is to go together with the community. Apart from the KRW 100 billion received from the selection of the Glocal University, about KRW 15 billion a year is received from Chungcheongbuk-do and Cheongju-si, and a part of this budget is used to support professors’ research expenses and provide incentives to professors who have written excellent theses to improve the CBNU’s research performance. For example, Kyungpook National University can receive up to KRW 30 million in incentives for excellent theses per professor. Incentives are the driving force that encourages professors to write many excellent papers.” He continued, “CBNU will strive to attract graduate students by providing full scholarships to full-time graduate students as well as incentives for excellent theses, and activating the support system.” Since the local government provides additional financial support for the Glocal 30 project, it means that the local government will use the subsidy to prepare a system to improve research capabilities.
  However, there are voices of concern that CBNU is having difficulties with the help of the local government, with the governor of Chungbuk province currently dealing with the Goesan land issue, and the mayor of Cheongju having been accused of a serious civil mismanagement due to the Osong flooding disaster. Regarding this, President Koh said, “The province and city are having difficulties now, but I contacted them before and they promised to support CBNU. There will be no problem getting help from the local government.”

The president’s answer to students’ biggest points of concern

UNIVERSITY NAME
  Pusan National University, Jeonbuk National University, Chonnam National University, Kangwon National University, and GyeongSang National University, which are integrated universities, did not come to an agreement on new university names during the integration process. All five universities retained their existing names through the intervention of the Ministry of Education. Regarding the name of the university after the integration, President Koh said, “CBNU will have a discussion with KNUT. However, an agreement may not be reached. If there is no agreement, CBNU will follow the example of the previous integrated universities.” He continued, “There is no better name that reflects the identity, history and tradition of the region than ‘CBNU.’ Even if we discuss it, the name of the integrated university will be ‘CBNU.’”

DEPARTMENT TRANSFER
  President Koh affirmatively said, “In the model that I first proposed to discuss integration with the president of KNUT, there was no mention of any department transfer. There will be no transfer of departments.” However, professors wishing to move from Cheongju to Chungju or Chungju to Cheongju could do so.

DIPLOMA
  President Koh said, “If the integration takes place in March 2026 or March 2027, it is a principle that only students who will enter the integrated university at that time will use the name of the integrated university. Under the assumption that the name of the integrated university will be ‘CBNU,’ CBNU students have the same university name before and after the integration, so there will be no problem. However, I also understand the feelings of the students of KNUT who have to graduate in the name of a university that will disappear the following year.  However, it is not possible to give the same diploma because the entrance exam results were different at the time of admission. Consequently, we are considering giving a diploma from an integrated university to students who meet certain criteria.” He continued, “It has not been decided yet, and we will decide how to award the diplomas after reflecting on the students’ ideas. In fact, when Gyeongsang University was integrated with GNTECH (Gyeongnam National University of Science and Technology), Gyeongsang University set standards related to the diploma. If GNTECH’s graduates met the standards set by Gyeongsang University, they would graduate under the name of the integrated university, and if not, they would graduate under the name of the original university.” Regarding this, an anonymous student said through the on-campus anonymous online community “Everytime,” “In the case of the integration of Gyeongsang University and GNTECH, the diploma standard was so low that GNTECH students could receive a diploma from the integrated university if they wanted.”

ENTRANCE EXAM RESULT
  Since the entrance exam requirement at KNUT is lower than that of CBNU, there is public opinion among students within the CBNU who are concerned that the entrance exam result will decrease after integration. Regarding this, CBNU head of the office of planning Seo Yong-seok said, “As a result of analyzing the trend of entrance exam results after the integration of Gyeongsang University and GNTECH, which are similar in size to CBNU and KNUT, entrance exam result for all flagship national universities fell at a similar slope until the integration in 2021, fell a little more until 2022, and then increased in 2023.” He then said, “I agree that integration can affect the entrance exam results, but it is judged that the result does not necessarily get worse.” He continued, “I see the integration as a good opportunity to increase the competitiveness of CBNU by establishing excellent educational personnel and research environments through large-scale investments.”

Where is the budget spent?

  If selected as the Glocal University 30, CBNU will receive KRW 100 billion from the government for five years. The total budget is about KRW 250 billion when the subsidy of KRW 50 to 100 billion from local governments and integration support fund of KRW 30 to 50 billion KRW are combined. Then, how will this budget be used for students? The budget plan is largely divided into ▲improving the educational environment ▲expanding scholarships ▲supporting student employment and startup ▲strengthening students’ global competency ▲supporting student welfare.
  The key to improving the educational environment is the establishment of smart classrooms tailored to the characteristics of each department and pushing ahead with remodeling by college. At the fourth meeting of Glocal University 30 on July 27, a student from the college of social sciences said, “If a specialized university is established in Chungju after integration with KNUT, it seems to be more focused on convergence, IT, and science & engineering fields rather than basic studies. The Dept. of Sociology has only one graduate school lab. In addition, it is common for students to hear that the College of Business conducts classroom renovation whenever the dean changes” asking whether the budget is used to alleviate the inequality between science and engineering and humanities. President Koh said, “Specialization means the specialization of the field. The Gaesin campus is much larger than Chungju. Therefore, it is absolutely not spending money on only Chungju specialized university. If CBNU is selected as the Glocal Unviersity, the budget will be used to remodel old buildings and secure space for additional buildings to be built. I will regularly go to each college to ask students what they feel uncomfortable and try to improve it.”
  The key to support student employment and startup is the operation of the student led Gap-Zero employment support program. This refers to a program that supports students to fill the gap between the competencies companies demand from students and the competencies they possess. President Koh said, “CBNU will build the best database in Korea, which will serve to inform companies that are related to each department from the first and second year students, and inform all the specifications required to join the company, including salary and welfare level. CBNU will fully provide the necessary support to students by providing access to all relavant materials, such as self-introduction letters, by networking with seniors who got jobs at those companies.”
  The key to strengthening students’ global competency is the operation of an overseas training program for about 15 days each winter/summer vacation for 300 students. President Koh said, “CBNU will not form teams, but students voluntarily form teams to plan overseas training and CBNU will support the cost.”
  In this way, if selected for the Glocal University 30 project, the system and scale can be expanded with support from the Ministry of Education and local governments for five years after integration. However, this may require a larger scale of finance than before integration. Then, after the end of the Glocal 30 project, will CBNU have any financial preparations in a situation where government support has ended? Regarding the sustainability of the operation, President Koh said, “In the case of local government support fund, there is a high possibility that it will be distributed over ten years instead of five years. In addition, budget legalism is expected to expand to universities within 5 to 10 years just as the current elementary, middle and high school budget is paid by allocating a certain percentage of the national tax even if they do not apply.” President Koh revealed that CBNU management is sufficiently sustainable financially.

Criticism of integration

  Looking at the budget spending plan alone, integration seems to have only advantages. However, it seems that CBNU did not fully consider the costs incurred after integration, such as the cost of building the integrated computer system. In fact, President Koh said, “This time, it costs KRW 250 million to reorganize the website of Gaesinnuri. CBNU spent this amount of budget to upgrade what CBNU already have, not to create new content that did not exist. When CBNU is integrated with KNUT, a large budget is required to integrate systems such as an academic management system, research fund management system, budget management system, and electronic document system. There is a KORUS (an administrative and financial resource management system that integrates the human and material resources of national universities) system, so there are parts where the Chungju and Gaesin campuses have progressed together, but the research fund management part uses a completely different system. I honestly do not know the total cost of the integration.”
  In addition, integration cannot proceed successfully without the formation of consensus within and outside the university regarding university integration. In fact, Chungnam National University and HBNU (Hanbat National University) are currently the only universities that have been eliminated among the national universities that applied for the Glocal University 30 on the premise of integration due to discord among university members. Universities applying for the Glocal University 30 project must submit a five page innovation proposal. Universities premised on integration must submit a single joint application. However, as the fact that HBNU submitted a separate application for preliminary designation without Chungnam National University’s knowledge was belatedly known, it was revealed that they worked together for integration having different purposes. On Aug. 7, the President of HBNU, Oh Yong-jun said in A Message to HBNU’s Family that was delivered through HBNU’s internal network, “The problem that occurred in the process of duplicate submission of proposals is considered to be a pain caused by the failure of the attempt to incorporate the competency and values of HBNU into the integrated university” admitting that there was a conflict with Chungnam National University. This event suggests that not only simple physical integration, but also psychological integration between the two university members is important. President Koh said, “Since psychological integration is a necessary part, the process of communication and discussion between the members of the two universities is essential. However, I am concerned that the conversation will spread to an emotional fight rather than a rational discussion.” He continued, “I think it would be okay to discuss through meetings between representative institutions in the university, such as student media. CBNU will take time to seek ways to communicate between the two universities.”
  Due to the decrease in the school age population and the concentration of the population in the metropolitan area, changes in local universities are essential. However, in reality, the government is restructuring universities in the name of financial support. Since the integration process takes a long time, at least two years, discussions on integration also require a sufficiently long time. Until CBNU was selected as a preliminary designation for the Glocal University on June 20, CBNU held a briefing session only for alumni association, professors, student councils, and staff councils, but did not collect opinions from general students. Since then, reflecting students’ opinions, CBNU has informed about the Glocal University 30 project through its homepage and social network service, and holds regular student meetings. However, it still cannot avoid criticism for a hasty push. President Koh said, “Before submitting final application on Oct. 6, there is not enough time to reach an agreement on the details, such as the merger of overlapping departments, system change, and teaching staff adjustment. I am contemplating how far to make the blueprint for integration before submitting this application.” Students will not fully trust the CBNU’s integration policy unless there is a specific plan for research policies and systems after integration.
  The president’s change of stance about the way to collect opinions from all CBNU members before submitting final application may cause confusion among students. The method of collecting opinions that President Koh announced at the first meeting was that professors, staff, and students vote for or against, and if at least one of each organization does not exceed 50%, the final proposal will not be submitted. Later, at the fifth meeting, President Koh said, “The opinions of each of the three organizations are important. It does not seem right not to integrate just because a majority of one group did not agree, because one group will have the right of veto against the other two groups. Rather than making decisions by the president alone, I think it would be better for the faculty council, the student council, and the staff council to discuss among themselves and agree on a way of collecting opinions.”

  The discussion on the integration of CBNU and KNUT provided an opportunity to think about the direction CBNU should take in the wake of tremendous change. CBNU students need to respond more sensitively to the Glocal University 30 project and the content related integration, and to continuously engage in specific discourse. It is time for active attention and efforts, such as participating in meetings and expressing opinions for the future of the university.

By Kim Chan-ju | g660303@chungbuk.ac.kr
By Park Su-min | psm0129@chungbuk.ac.kr
By Seok Yeon-ji | duswl1102@chungbuk.ac.kr
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