RESPONSES TO GLOBALIZATION: INTERNATIONALIZATION AND INSTITUTIONAL REFORM IN TWO DIFFERENT TYPES OF UNIVERSITIES IN KOREA

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2015

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Abstract

This study explores the internationalization dynamics and institutional shifts in Korean universities in response to globalization trends. It investigates what forces are pushing universities to move toward internationalization and which strategies are being pursued by universities to accomplish that end. My motivation is to better understand how neoliberal ideology may be impacting higher education and how universities have responded to globalization while pursuing internationalization. It has also been important to consider how and whether these changes have altered the educational environment at universities and to investigate the impact of various reforms on academics. For its methodology, this study adopts a qualitative multiple-case study approach, employing as its primary methods document analysis and interviews with academicians and administrators. Case studies are produced involving two universities: Seoul National University was chosen to represent a research-focused university and another university was chosen to represent a teaching-focused university. As students are major stakeholders in higher education, this study also explores their engagement in international higher education.

   In the name of internationalization, the notions of competitiveness and efficiency have been incorporated in academic environments. Academic disciplines are now driven by external accountability, and academic governance is shaped by powerful decision-makers. Thus, many academic fields have become more strongly linked to industries. Academicians often criticize this type of globalization by citing concern about the nature of universities where the search for knowledge for its own sake was once given the highest value. Both case universities are reforming their institutions while pursuing diverse internationalization strategies. In doing so, the universities are slowly but certainly moving toward an entrepreneurial culture. This is manifested in overseas student recruitment and increasing university-industrial ties that secure further funding.

   This study demonstrates that internationalization and institutional reforms in Korea have taken a path that is very similar to global trends. At the same time, the phenomenon of local action, whether in Korea or elsewhere, continues to be distinct in many ways.

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