Samsung University Ranking System – The Implications
by Stewart Collins
The New Samsung University Ranking System
In a recent turn of events, Samsung has told Korean universities that they may only recommend a specified number of students to their recruitment program. A total of 5000 students have been designated, however the number differs depending on each school individually. If a student is recommended they have the privilege of evading the Samsung screening process and directly sitting the exam (the Samsung Aptitude Test).
Everybody wants to work for Samsung so it seems. For 10 years running now, Samsung has been voted Korea’s most desired workplace. The problem is however, that the new recruitment policy seems to be operating under the umbrella of favoritism. Unsurprisingly, universities affiliated with Samsung have been placed at the top and given the most recommendation spots, just take Sungyunkwan University for instance, closely followed by Seoul National and Hanyang Universities respectively.
The reaction to Samsung’s actions has focused on the regional preferences displayed in the rankings. Jeolla province has notably fewer places available than Gyeongsang province and this has sparked a discussion over regional discrimination within the country.
Perhaps an even more contentious issue is the fact that women’s universities have received a remarkably limited amount of slots. Just take Ewha Woman’s University for instance: one of the most respected institutes in the country, yet at the same time, only in receipt of a meager 30 recommendation placements.
According to a recent document issued by the World Economic Fund (WEF), South Korea is ranked 111th in the gender equality rankings. This report is structured on an analysis of women’s economic participation, level of education, and health and political activity.
What exactly is the Korean dream? For South Korean students, the aim of the game is often predetermined from a young age. The highest form of human aspiration is going to the best universities, and the end result is landing a top job at the so-called chaebols (Korean conglomerates). This in turn stimulates a competitive culture and has produced an almost Darwinian survival of the fittest regime within the boundaries of Korean higher education
The new ranking system courtesy of Samsung is believed to be an attempt at wielding even more control over the general public. By limiting the amount of available recommendations, Samsung is merely accentuating the competitiveness of the system: placing the responsibility of screening applicants firmly at the doorstep of the universities themselves. In contrast, Samsung justifies their actions by stating that they developed the rankings based on the number of applicants that were hired the previous year. Furthermore, they cite the fact they are searching for skilled individuals in the fields of Engineering and Natural Science, and thus the universities with strong credentials in these areas would naturally be favoured.
The Korean education system is all about winning, it is essentially a dog eat dog world. As a nation, Korea has some of the highest levels of stress and bullying in the developed world. This has culminated in one of the highest suicide to match, or as the Korea Health Promotion Foundation recently alluded to: “youth suicide rates in the OECD countries have been falling on average, but Korea has the second highest youth suicide rates among OECD members.”
It is clear that Samsung’s hiring techniques are a testament to some of South Korea’s contemporary social woes, both in terms of gender equality and education. Even though the rapid economic miracle has rendered Korea a developed and democratic nation by definition, one question remains. Korea: At what cost?