POSTECH Out to ‘Buy’ Nobel Laureates

2010-02-24 1,424

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Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in Pohang City, North Gyeongsang Province, has unveiled a 150 billion won project to push itself to join the ranks of the world’s top 50 universities.

Its plan centers around hiring 10 Nobel Prize or Fields Medal winners in science and math, and setting up a world-class education environment by spending a total of 150 billion won over the next three years. It is the second initiative to be announced by President Baik Sung-gi in recent days.

However, the school’s plan appears to be lacking detail.

The school didn’t respond to repeated inquiries by The Korea Times regarding how they will attract and retain 10 Nobel Prize winners and raise the large amount of money required for the project.

Ewha Womans University currently has the largest number of Nobel Prize laureates among universities here at four, who are working as research partners.

Many Korean universities have sought to attract more world-renowned professors under the government-supported project “World Class University,” but the average stay of such foreign scholars is only four months, according to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

According to some foreign faculty members currently in Seoul, many of them have difficulty in adapting themselves and their families to life here due to language barriers.

Although POSTECH didn’t elaborate further on the project, it aims to be listed among the world’s top 50 universities by 2013 and guarantees 5 billion won for each three-year period to a Nobel Award-winning professor.

In addition, faculty members will be encouraged to work with overseas research teams and the university will invite more foreign graduate students for research projects. Another 50 billion won will be invested for a fusion research center.

From March, it will conduct all courses in English and require all students to speak only English on campus. Professors and staff members must speak in English during conferences. All documents, materials and signs at the university will be written in both Korean and English.

All administration offices at each department will have staff members who can speak English fluently.

“This is to attract foreign professors and students. We will help them to not to have any problems while living here,” a school official said.

Under the plan, 45 percent of the university’s professors will be foreign nationals by next year. To reach its goal, the university this year began to hire equal numbers of Korean and foreign academics.

The school will reveal its plans to create an English-friendly campus next month.