By Yoo Hee-kon,
Reporter of Campus Reporting
AS THE economic depression in Korea continues, "Good Grades" have
become a very sensitive problem to all university students, including
Yonseians. In this situation, many Yonseians have a big interest in the
course retaking system since it was made an issue by the school
authorities some years ago. There have been many rumors, but no correct
information concerning the new system's progress, the contents of the 2003
and 2004 agreements, or other university's systems exist.
month's "Cover Story" of The Yonsei Annals focuses on the course retaking
system of Yonsei Univ. In this article, we focus on general students'
perspectives, not on the school authorities or the SA (Student
JUNG JAE-GU (Soph., Dept. of English Lang. & Lit.) has a worry nowadays.
He is going to serve his military service for about two years from next
semester. For that, he has to be absent from school temporarily. It is not a
matter of him dropping out of school for several years, but the problem that
makes him worried is his grades. He has two "C+s", a "C0" and "C-" during the
last three semesters. He should retake those courses to increase his overall
grade. However, according to a rumor, retaking a course graded over "C-" will be
prohibited from next semester. Then, he will not be able to supplement his
grades even after readmission. On the other hand, there are also other rumors
that the course retaking system is not going to be changed in such a short time.
Jung does not know what the truth really is. He is confused
about what to do. He asked all of his seniors and friends, and searched on all
the websites, but he could not find the information about it anywhere. Finally,
Jung has to go to the army with the problem of grades
him but also most Yonseians are worried about the problem. No one knows exactly
about this issue. What is going on with the course retaking system? Why do
Yonseians so resist this expected change? And why are the school authorities
trying to change this course retaking system despite the students'
Items about a modifying
Items about course retaking
system according to the 2003 and 2004 agreement
▶ The course retaking
system that is modified will be postponed for a while (do not start at
once), and it is needed to organize the system improving team including
representatives of students and the school authorities.
▶ The proposal
about the new system should mention opening classes that consist only of
students who are retaking the classes, and grading these students with an
absolute evaluating system. Otherwise, the classes should be divided into
students taking the class for the first or second time, and grade them
separately. Especially the students who are retaking the class should be
graded with an absolute evaluating system.
▶ The courses cancelled
already should be replaced with alternative courses during the summer
▶ Students should be notified about courses that will be
cancelled before the course application period.
▶ The course retaking system will be modified
by organizing the system improving team quickly.
▶ An evaluating system
that is suitable to each class's character should be
the course retaking system
In fact, about two years ago, there was already a rumor that the
course retaking system would be prohibited. The SA conferred with the school
authorities and drew up an agreement, on April, 2003 and again in May, 2004.
However, those are not final drafts and the conference about the course retaking
system is still under consideration.
The agreement about
the course retaking system in 2003 proposed making a course retaking system team
and establishing alternative or substitute classes in the case of closed classes
(those classes which have been permanently cancelled). It also referred to a
grading system for students retaking classes. They would be graded by an
absolute evaluating system, or would be separated from students who took the
class only one, according to this agreement. The 2004 agreement is just a
supplement to the 2003 agreement. It mentions organizing the team, the same as
the 2003 agreement, and considers other evaluating systems that are suitable for
each class's character.
However, Yonseians have difficulty knowing
exactly how the course retaking system will be changed. Jung Jae-gu says, "I
think this issue was raised several years ago. Although this system will be
changed, I want a definite answer from the school authorities or SA. I get
irritated by their ambiguous attitude."
The attitude of
both the authorities
At present, there is no limitation to retaking courses. Any
students can retake a course regardless of his grade: A to F. However, the
school authorities insist that the new course retaking system will be limited to
students who received a grade under D. According to the authorities, the present
course retaking system has various problems. They surveyed Yonseians about their
thoughts of the present course retaking system in 2002. The result came out that
60% of respondents thought that the present system should be improved.
The school authorities give some reasons why the course
retaking system should be modified. First, it makes vicious circles. Kohakbeon
(students who entered a long time before) retake courses, which are for
freshmen, so it is disadvantageous for freshmen to get a good grade by competing
with seniors who are taking the course more than once. Later, they also will
retake the course to recover their low grade. This phenomenon has continued
again and again. Kim Kwang-soo (Fresh., Area of Liberal Arts) says, "In some
courses which I am taking this semester, there are so many seniors that I feel I
can not get a good grade because of competing with them. I had better retake
these courses next semester."
Secondly, it is also a
nuisance to the professors, because some students give up studying and bother
the atmosphere of the class, when it seems they cannot get a good grade. Third,
from the point of quality of academic environment, it is impossible to open a
new class due to the course retaking system. In other words, the more students
retaking courses, the more classrooms will be needed. Because of the lack of
classrooms, new classes that would be useful for students cannot be opened and
it cause damages to Yonseians. Besides, more classes require more lecturers. The
number of full-time lecturers is not enough. Then it becomes unavoidable to use
part-time lectures, and according to student course evaluations, students prefer
full-time lectures for their lectures' quality. A school authority says, "If the
course retaking students decreased, it would be possible to open 100 new
classes, and divide a big class into a smaller one. This can improve students'
environment more efficiently."
Then why do the
school authorities not just abolish the system? "I think it is better to abolish
the system, but it is virtually impossible, due to the students' demand. The
most urgent work at this point is to reduce the number of students who retake a
course. Then the problems caused by the system will be solved to some degree,"
says Lee Bo-young, Dir. of Curriculum Department in Office of Academic Affairs.
About 8% of Yonseians are retaking a course currently, according to Dir. Lee,
and among them, students who got above C in the first course are 65%. To allow
students with a grade under D to retake course, therefore, is the most efficient
In fact, most students understand the side effects of
our course retaking system and also understand the school authorities' attitude.
However, students do not think the grade limitation is an efficient way.
Although the school authorities insist the grade limitation will minimize
harmful effects of the course retaking system, there will be other problems.
Some students point out that those students who expect bad
grades will not study. Lee Eun-bee (Soph., Dept. of English Lang. & Lit.)
refers, "It is unfair that students who studied hard but received C cannot
retake the course, and students who did not make a serious effort can do that.
If I were in that place, I would rather play and receive a D." It also can be a
problem that students converge into a course, in which it is easy to get a good
grade. It is against the academic goal which the school pursues.
Besides, it is disadvan-tageous for Yonseians when
competing for a job, because other universities do not limit those who may
retake courses. When Yonseians compete with them, it is certain who make a good
impression: other university students with no C on their transcripts, or
Yonseian with several C grades.
The situation at this point
Yonseians cannot get any information anywhere, not on Yonsei
Univ. website, SA's website, or placards on Baikyang-ro. They just hear rumors
from their friends and know that the course retaking system will be changed
someday. Many Yonseians, especially men who are going to join the army feel some
misgivings about their academic courses.
The SA has attempted
to have a meeting with the school authorities from the beginning of this year,
as a name CPS (Conference of Professors & Students for school development).
Professors were organized with Vice Pres. for Academic Affairs, Dir. of Office
of Academic Affairs, Planning and Management, Student Affairs and Services, and
Women Students Affairs. Students consisted of the SA and WSA (Woman Student
Association), and the Pres. of each college.
With a change of Pres. of Yonsei Univ.,
however, it was difficult to have a meeting in June, because the new authorities
had not taken over their work yet. The meeting was also not held in September
because of the Yon-Ko Fete. Therefore, the meeting in June and September were
canceled and it was finally held on Oct. 7. "We have tried to hold a conference
with professors constantly. Yet because of changing of the school authorities,
it has been delayed until October," says Bae Jin-woo, Pres. Of the SA (Jr.,
Dept. of Math). According to him, there was no solution or alternative plan made
at the course retaking system conference on Oct. 7. "The school authorities said
they had some measures, but they have not been revealed yet. The conference is
likely going to be held soon if our works succeeded," says Pres. Bae. He adds
that, "But we, the SA are now concerned with freezing the tuition, because it is
more urgent than the course retaking system right now. Thus as soon as this
problem about tuition is solved, we will try to do best with more
concentration." However, it is questionable which issue is more important.
A way the course retaking system will go
Some students suggest the deleting unit system or abandoning the
course system, which has already been introduced in some other universities. For
example, in Korea Univ., there is a deleting unit system. According to school
regulation Article No. 52 of Korea Univ., a student who has registered for seven
years can delete up to maximum of six units. The object of class abandoning is
only used in the case of cancelled classes, because of changing academic
program. Although only cancelled classes can be deleted, it is helpful to
students who cannot retake some non-existing courses. Currently, based on
research of the SA, about 28 subjects can not be retaken because they are
permanently cancelled in Yonsei. In Sookmyung Univ., there is a course
abandoning system. Through this system, students can give up a course and the
fact that they give up is not left on their academic record. "In my school, a
student who retakes a course is graded with a limitation under A-. It is the
student's choice to willingly submit to not receiving A+ or abandoning a course
and taking a seasonal session to fill earned credits," says Nam Hee-kyung
(Soph., Dept. of Law). Students in Sookmyung Univ. have a right to choose
because they can give up if they feel the course is not good or they would not
receive an ideal grade.
About these opinions, the school
authorities reply that Yonsei Univ. has no idea of adopting those systems. They
insist that it reduces students' motivation to study. However, will they take
the blame if Yonseians have a disadvantage when looking for a job? The school
authorities say they will try not to cause harm to Yonseians by the course
retaking system. However, there is no way to know the truth.
On the other hand, the SA is also confident
that the course retaking system will not be changed into for the worse, as the
school authorities want. "We will fulfill a goal that grades of at least 'C
plus' can be retaken. It will not be changed in a day. The solution to the
course retaking system needs more consideration. Now we are concerned with
tuition, but we will soon solve the course retaking system. One thing that we
can say with confidence is that Yonseians can retake a course for several
semesters," says Bae.
For whom is this course retaking system?
confident statement of both the authorities and SA, the possibility of change to
the course retaking system exists, and Yonseians should be uneasy. Of course it
is not simple to solve this problem. Both attitudes have some reasons. However,
the people most directly concerned are Yonseians and they are also victims.
Under the uncertain situation, all of Yonseians are nervous and worry about
their near future. Not only the school authorities and SA, but also Yonseians
should have a desirable attitude regarding the course retaking system. If the
school authorities are worrie about whether Yonseians would neglect studying
because of the course retaking system, they are misunderstanding Yonseians,
"The new system may be applied to freshmen who will enter next year. It
is not yet a definite solution, but it may be a delightful news to many
- An anonymous staff belonged to the school
Items about course retaking system according to the 2003 and 2004 agreement
▶ The course retaking system that is modified will be postponed
for a while (do not start at once), and it is needed to organize the system
improving team including representatives of students and the school
▶ The proposal about the new system should mention opening
classes that consist only of students who are retaking the classes, and grading
these students with an absolute evaluating system. Otherwise, the classes should
be divided into students taking the class for the first or second time, and
grade them separately. Especially the students who are retaking the class should
be graded with an absolute evaluating system.
▶ The courses cancelled
already should be replaced with alternative courses during the summer
Students should be notified about courses that will be cancelled before the
course application period.
▶ The course retaking system will be modified by organizing the
system improving team quickly.
▶ An evaluating
system that is suitable to each class's character should be
Introduction of appropriate evaluating system according to a course's
following courses can apply to an absolute evaluating system.
▶ 4000 units classes with less than 20 students
▶ Classes taught in
▶ Classes with less than ten students
▶ Classes opened by Div. of
International Education and Exchange
Practical course that professor himself who teaches the subject do not grade
▶ Practical course that makes cooperative research as a grading
▶ Teacher training course
▶ Everlasting education courses
Practical course in Col. of Music
Educational View About the Course Retaking System
of Dept. of Education
The course retaking system can offer a chance to
students who received a bad grade by various reason such as lack of academic
ability or individual circumstances. In particular, if the course is essential
for students, it is necessary to give students that chance for real goal of
studying. Although the course retaking system has lots of bad effects that every
students know, it is useful system coincided with an educational purpose.
However, it is needed to limit a condition of retaking, because it is unfair to
student who studied hard but received bad grade,
compared to a student who did
not make an effort and received same grade.
ONE DAY, while I was talking with my friend who is going to join
the military, I heard his worry about the course retaking system. It was also an
important issue for me, but I realized that this is a severe problem for male
students like my friend. Because I did not know what was going on either, I
decided to write a report about this issue. However, as with other Yonseians, I
have had some difficulties getting information before speaking with the SA and
the school authorities. Really, there is no exact information or notice
At first, I just intended to report about the process of modifying
the course retaking system. I believed the solution was in progress although it
is not known to Yonseians. Yet while researching for this article, I felt
uneasiness about the school authorities and SA's indolent attitude and changed
my mind concerning this issue. All Yonseians are worrying about the course
retaking system. However, what are they doing now? It is not today's problem. I
wish for a quick and definite answer about the course retaking system from both