Sungshin teams up with Chinese schools

By: Chung Hyun-chae

Shim Hwa-jin, president of Sungshin University who was elected to her third term in August, has vowed to expand cooperation with foreign universities, particularly with Chinese institutions, in order to raise Sungshin’s international competitiveness.

“We have focused on forging closer ties with Chinese universities that are improving quickly with strong support of the Chinese government,” Shim said.

To help universities hone their international competitiveness, the Chinese Ministry of Education has been running two projects since the 1990s: Project 211 and Project 985.

The first project is the Chinese government’s initiative which began in 1995 to strengthen the research ability of around 100 universities. The second was launched in 1998 to turn Chinese universities into world-class institutions.

Sungshin has created partnerships with 138 foreign universities, 55 of which are Chinese including Tsinghua University in Beijing and Jilin University in northeast China. The two universities are participating in the projects.

“We are making efforts to promote exchanges with many selective Chinese universities that are taking part in the projects,” Shim said.

Sungshin and the Hebei University of Science and Technology in northern China, were chosen by the Chinese government in 2013 for another project to adopt the educational systems of foreign universities.

Recognizing Sungshin’s outstanding programs, Hebei University created the fashion and fashion accessories design department, modeled after Sungshin’s curriculum.

The Chinese university recruits 93 to 97 students for the department every year and the students are required to study Korean as their first foreign language beginning in their freshman year.

After finishing their second year in China, they are required to come to Korea to study at Sungshin’s Woonjung Green Campus in northern Seoul, for their third and fourth years. They can then obtain B.A.’s from both Hebei and Sungshin.

Another Chinese university, the Shandong Youth University of Political Science, has also developed a department of makeup jointly with Sungshin.

Sungshin established the College of Convergence Culture and Arts with the makeup design department in 2011. It plans to launch the Graduate School of Convergence Beauty to offer a beauty-related curriculum in 2016.

“Given that K-beauty has been regarded as a new industry that could accelerate the spread of hallyu (the Korean wave) around the world, I hope our beauty-related departments could contribute to economic growth,” Shim said.

According to her, the university also plans to apply to the Chinese government to create another Korea-China joint department in partnership with Xi’an Jiaotong University in 2016.

“Professors of the two universities are discussing ways to set the curriculum of the makeup and clothing departments,” Shim added.

Besides the joint department project, Sungshin opened a branch of the King Sejong Institute at the Hebei University of Science and Technology in September.

The King Sejong Institute operates a Korean language institutes for foreigners in 138 branches in 54 countries under Korean government support.

“The institute will pave the way for promoting Korean culture among Chinese people and attracting more talented Chinese students to Korea,” Shim said. “Aside from Korean language classes, we have plans to open diverse cultural courses about tea ceremonies and makeup classes at the institute, among others.”

Given that Hyundai Motor is building a factory in Hebei, Shim expects more Chinese people to rush to learn Korea and experience Korean culture.

Multilateral cooperation

In a strong drive toward globalization, Sungshin University has also promoted trilateral programs with universities in China and Japan.

“We have been running two international programs in which universities in Korea, China and Japan take part to offer their students a broader experience,” Shim said.

One of them is a female leadership program organized by Sungshin in 2014 in cooperation with the Shanghai International Studies University and Tokyo Woman’s Christian University.

“It is a short-term overseas training program for students from three universities to study languages and major-related knowledge while traveling the three countries during summer break,” Shim said. “The students can also earn credits through the program.”

Another program is one for social contribution through art that was launched by Sungshin, the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in China, and the Joshibi University of Art and Design in Japan. Program participants spend one week in each country during their breaks studying public art.

“I believe these kinds of multilateral programs can give students greater networks and a broad view of the world,” Shim said.

Shim stressed the importance of providing practical education.

“When I tried to establish the College of Convergence Culture and Arts, some opposed it, insisting that only vocational colleges have such majors,” Shim said.

“But I think practical learning such as makeup and clothing is as important as academic learning.”

Shim was a professor at the department of clothing and textiles at the university and also served as the director of the board of trustees at the Sungshin Institute.

Shim became the eighth university president in 2007 and was re-elected in 2011.

SOURCE THE KOREA TIMES

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