IF YOU were to go on an exchange program next semester, where would you go? The first options that might pop into your head would be overseas, such as America, Europe, or China. Only a few would imagine Korea as an option. The domestic student exchange program is one in which students go on an exchange program within Korea, enabling university students to take courses in different Korean universities. The program is facing several problems that prevent it from being widely used, however. What are these problems and how can they be solved?
The domestic student exchange
The domestic student exchange program was originally created to help students take various courses in different universities. For example, through Yonsei University’s bilateral agreement with Sogang University on domestic students exchange, Yonseians can take courses in Sogang, and vice versa. These courses include those held in regular spring and fall semesters, as well as those offered during vacations. According to Kang Chul-won (Manager, Undergraduate Support Team, Office of Academic Affairs), the big strength of the program is that the participating students are granted the privilege of being able to take specialized courses at other universities that are not available in their home universities.The domestic student exchange program can also help students use their time more efficiently. For some students, commuting to school can be very exhausting and time consuming. Through the domestic exchange program, however, students can save more time by taking courses in universities near their home. Students who go on the domestic student exchange program can also meet a varied set of people. By taking a range of courses in different universities, students can start new relationships and enrich their social life. This is especially appealing to students from a women’s university, who can use this opportunity to interact with male students. “One of the biggest advantages of this program is that I can meet and study with Yonseians while experiencing life in Yonsei University,” says Lee Young-ji (Soph., Dept. of Ethics Education, Sungshin Women’s Univ.). She continued, “I am also glad to take Professor Kim Joo-ah’s wonderful lecture about educational evaluation.”
Despite the many benefits of the domestic student exchange program, there are still several prominent shortcomings to this program. According to Kang, there are over 20 times more exchange students applying to take courses at Yonsei University than Yonseians applying to go on these exchange programs at other universities. Though this may be because Yonseians prefer taking courses in their own school, it shows also that many Yonseians are not utilizing the program effectively. The domestic exchange program was created to promote students’ academic development all over Korea, including that of Yonsei University students. The benefits of participating in this program are not well known at the moment, but students should be aware that this program could be very helpful for their personal and academic development. A more serious problem, however, is the school administration’s lack of care towards students from other universities. Although Yonsei University has been signing numerous agreements with other universities, it has not found a way to care for all the exchange students coming into Baikyang-ro . According to Lee, Yonsei University did not provide any proper instructions on how the school’s academic system works nor give any orientation to help her settle in to her new school life. As such, she faced a lot of difficulties getting used to the new academic system and services. Due to this negligence, these students are given limited access to some of the major services at Yonsei, such as the library or the shuttle bus services.
For a better implementation
As for now, several changes have to be made in order to better carry out the program. Lee suggested that the school start to care more for the exchange students. Currently, there is no orientation session given to domestic exchange students to help their lives at Yonsei. This can be compared with how the exchange students from abroad are given orientations and access to club activities that help them adjust to Yonsei. As an academic center, such difference in treatment to students from outside is not appropriate. Therefore, Yonsei University should look to find ways to help domestic exchange students to easily access vital information from the school. By doing so, it would not only help the domestic exchange students assimilate into Yonsei University, but also allow our students to engage and socialize with these students much more easily. However, the school’s effort alone is not enough. The imbalance of students wishing to come in and go out of Yonsei will be alleviated only when Yonseians make efforts to utilize this program for their own good, too. There are diverse universities available and it is recommended that Yonseians also investigate and experience the significant opportunities the program holds. This is the same for the exchange students who applied for Yonsei. Although it is the school’s responsibility to inform them about the school’s academic systems, it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to look into what they are granted. When both students and school put in a little more effort, the domestic student exchange program will be able to meet its original purpose of enhancing students' academic well-being.
The domestic student exchange program is a great way to help promote interaction between students from all over Korea, and is full of potential for further growth and development. The program does have many drawbacks that still need to be overcome, however. Unless there are some moves to overcome them, the program will never be able to realize its full potential.