When you turn on the internet or TV for the news, you will hear quiet often as to how the Ministry of Education (MOE) pressures the universities to restructure their departments to meet the demands of upcoming job markets. We experienced that it generally means that pure academic majors or pure art majors are eliminated to pass the students quota to the more job relevant majors such as business and technology. Many universities have chosen the path to be vocational education institutions to earn the restructuring grants despite the conflicts among the students and the faculty.
However, the forced restructuring of universities hinders the academic freedom seriously. The academic freedom is the very reasons for the origin of universities. The definition of a university includes the notion of academic freedom. The first documentary evidence of this comes from the first university. University of Bologna, which adopted an academic charter, the Constitutio Habita in 1155. It guaranteed the right of a traveling scholar to unhindered passage in the interests of education, "academic freedom" in modern terminology. This is now widely recognised internationally. On 18 September 1988, 430 university presidents signed the Magna Charta Universitatum marking the 900th anniversary of Bologna's foundation. The number of universities signing the Magna Charta Universitatum continues to grow drawing from all parts of the world. Historically speaking, universities are founded on the strong tradition of the liberal education.
The future direction of the university education is somewhere between liberal education and vocational education. When we say "a college graduate", it generally implies that one is knowledgable in a wide area of human history, culture and knows how to reason to come to a rational conclusion of life problems we face. In order to attain the status of "a college graduate" in its common sense term, universities must offer a strong general education in areas of aestehtic and interpretive understanding, culture and belief, empirical and mathematical reasoning, ethical reasoning, science of living systems, science of the physical universe, societies of the world and our country in the world (Harvard program in general education for example).
Korea National University of Education (KNUE) shows its strong sense of affiliation to the research and the vocational field in its name. The recent employment #1 index shows the excellence of KNUE education in preparation for educational employment opportunities. However, we must remember that the educational excellence is not accounted for only by the percentile of passage to the employment exam. The strong general education of the KNUE will strengthen the foundation of the KNUE education and its excellence. Despite the strong showing in the employment exam, the current KNUE general education program is not systematic in any way to support our college graduates to be knowledgeable in different areas of human tradition, knowledge and reasoning. It is high time that KNUE should consider creating a general education department to plan and execute the systematic and well-organized general education for our students to meet the demands of the future world. KNUE founded on the strong general education will lead to the sustained growth in not only the qualification of graduates but also the teacher employment.