The End Does Not Justify the Means: Paradox of Scholarship
The End Does Not Justify the Means: Paradox of Scholarship
  • Editor-in-chief Lee Suh-young
  • 승인 2012.11.21 23:13
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It’s not much too say that the most popular event in POSTECH among undergraduate and graduate students is the Kim Wook Special Meal Day. Thanks to the donation by Professor Kwang S. Kim of the Department of Chemistry, POSTECH students enjoyed steak dinners for only 2,500 KRW. This year, more than 1500 students queued up for the special meal expecting the old saying: A sound mind in a sound body. The dinner was established to encourage students to study hard and make significant contributions.
Similarly, the National Science and Engineering Undergraduate Scholarship was initiated to attract and develop talent that will significantly contribute to the science and engineering fields. It is a full-scholarship that covers a student’s tuition for up to four years. Half of POSTECH undergraduates are currently receiving this scholarship. However, this merit-based scholarship program actually curbs the potential of the talents who want to pursue a career in law or the medical field.
In 2010, the National Science and Engineering Undergraduate Scholarship was amended. Since then, students have been required to write a pledge that they will repay the scholarship if they enter a non-science and engineering career path. There are two peculiar aspects of this system: It is too na?ve to think that (1) students who want to go to medical schools or other non-science and engineering fields will give up their dream to avoid repaying and (2) students know what they will be after graduation even before entering school.
As the saying goes, the end does not justify the means. However crucial it may seem to the revival of science and engineering, curbing talent cannot be considered a viable solution. Students awarded the scholarship are not asked to submit a resume explaining their career plans. Most students receive the scholarship without a second thought because they feel they have earned it through their academic success. Students seldom consider the original purpose of the scholarship (developing science and engineering fields). Choosing a career path before entering university is a burden students shouldn’t have to deal with. The National Science and Engineering Undergraduate Scholarship committee should regard students’ studying science courses and seriously considering science careers as sufficient.
One of the good points of being a student is that as tuition increases, more amount full-scholarships will be offered to students. While the numerous donations and scholarships to encourage science and engineering students help somewhat, professors and professionals should also consider changes that need to be made to attract young talent to their fields. Indeed, looking back at my friend who hesitates to go to law school because of the new policy, the spirit of Prof. Kim is outstanding.