A university, regardless of the main or second campus, is an institution that provides for a higher level of education to those who pursue knowledge and wisdom. By having access to such educational opportunities students are able to learn and achieve academic and moral growth through the interactions with various people from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds.
A university also serves as an institution for producing people of talent, as the students learn and grow to their full potential through its educational system. In addition, a university degree gives an individual a broader choice of opportunities, to live a better future. Yet, since the decision of attending to a university is entirely dependent on the student, some students strive for universities with prestige and honor. Such pursuit of honor is not totally unhealthy.
However, an overdose of such passion can lead to a society where academic elitism is prevalent. In such a society, like the modern S. Korean society, the name value of a university is an essential factor that determines the future of a person. As such issues are conventional, second campuses of universities would only exacerbate such elitism as seen in the case of many different second campuses.
To effectively examine how a second campus of a university affects academic elitism, the purpose of a second campus must be understood. There could be various reasons for a university to expand its campus. It could be introduced to specialize in a specific field like the case of Sungkyunkwan University. It could be to provide an equal opportunity of development in different regions as Seoul National University insists. Or it could be to simply maximize profit and for a better evaluation.
The most ideal reason for a second campus would be to specialize in a certain academic field such as the Suwon campus of Sungkyunkwan University. The campus specializes on the field of natural science, which is not taught at the main campus in Seoul. Through professional management and investment, the two campuses do not have any overlapping majors or fields of study, nor do they have a discrepancy in social status or quality of education.
These characteristics make the university an epitome of a multi-campus university. Sungkyunkwan University is a single university composed of two differently located campuses. Yet, many universities have not been able to replicate Sungkyunkwan University’s success. Korea University’s Sejong campus and Yonsei University’s Wonju campus would be less successful cases. Unlike Sungkyunkwan University the two campuses of Korea and Yonsei University, are not only inept with the management of its majors, but also have an inequality at the level of students that attend to the university. The Sejong campus of Korea University has only recently changed its majors in 2016-17 which is certainly not enough time to create a separate specialized campus like Sungkyunkwan University.
The Wonju campus of Yonsei University, despite having numerous overlapping majors, has not even changed its majors at all. There is also a difference in the level of students that attend to the campuses. The main campuses of Korea and Yonsei University are considered as one of the top three universities in Korea. However, the second campuses do not quite live up to the reputation. As seen in the results of each campus’ student’s College Scholastic Ability Test (CAST), the difference between the main and second campuses is blatant, with the main campuses significantly higher than that of the second campuses.
As mentioned above, universities should create second campuses to enhance the quality of education and invest on their campuses. Unfortunately, in the contemporary Korean society, most second campuses of universities have become an institution considered for the honor of its name rather than its educational function, resulting in a heated dispute, such as the case of Seoul National University.
Although the university claims that the establishment of a second campus is for an equal development among cities, the plan is strongly opposed by its students. Many students protest and show discontent for the program as they view it as a strategy to gain profit by selling the name and brand value of the most prestigious university in Korea. Another problem with second campuses is that the country is saturated with more than enough universities for students. In this situation a second campus of a socially recognized university clearly means that the school foundation is pursuing economic interests rather than an excellence in the quality of education and research. These actions will only worsen academic elitism in the already stifling Korean society as quite a few students would apply to those universities just for the name and brand value of the university.
In any society a diploma of a socially prestigious university is an asset and is an honorable and congratulatory achievement. It is an evidence of a person’s perseverance and effort. Although a college degree is a simple piece of paper, it is a piece of paper that has great benefits, especially in S. Korea. Through this seemingly insignificant and fancy paper, one who has graduated from a top tier university has a tangible upper hand when compared to someone who has not. Nevertheless, it should be separated when evaluating a human being and should not be used to define. A person without the diploma of a university of honor and fame does not mean that the individual is incapable; it simply suggests that the person did not attend to a top tier university.
Therefore to minimize and reduce the academic elitism in society universities must be clear on the intention of the addition of a second campus. It should be focused on the specialization of a specific academic field which is not redundant with the main campus. If such campuses are created and well managed, as in the case of Sungkyunkwan University, it would progress society into a more healthy condition; a condition where students choose universities for studying what they really want, not for the honorable diploma.