Course Registration Struggles for International Students in GIST

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Despite being a famous research institution, GIST is notable for incorporating Humanities and Social sciences courses in its curriculum. However, even though GIST is an international school that draws students from all over the world thanks to its English-taught curriculum, only a few Humanities courses are available in English. This is challenging for international students because they must take numerous Humanities and Social science courses to graduate.

As GIST has a liberal arts and sciences curriculum, one graduation requirement for undergraduate students is to take Humanities and social science courses. Each Humanities and Social science course is classified into three areas: HUS, PPE, and GSC. To graduate, students must take 24 credits from Humanities and Social sciences which amounts to 2 courses from each division. Additionally, 12 more credits of Humanities and Social science courses can be acknowledged as free elective credits making the total number of credits taken 36 on average.

According to the visions of the Liberal Arts and Sciences curriculum in GIST, the basic science curriculum aims to give students a foundation to build their future scientific careers. It does so by ensuring that they grasp the world around them through fundamental scientific principles. Students gain knowledge of several research techniques that they might use in their significant future courses in addition to the principles taught in natural science or engineering science courses.

The humanities and social science curriculum also plays a significant role in GIST College’s goal. GIST believes the knowledge of science and technology greatly influences our manner of existence as humans. Science and technology experts will occupy increasingly significant social roles and more responsibility. As a result, the curriculum in GIST is created as a well-rounded program of study that equips students to carry out their duties in this emerging society.

Initially, GIST was one of the few educational institutions in Korea that taught primarily in English, but it has shifted to Korean teaching over time. Over the past couple of years, after GIST started welcoming international undergraduate students, it has begun its transition to teaching in English. However, only major and basic science courses are usually taught in English.

In 2022, there were 51 courses offered in the HUS division of Humanities and Social Science. Of the 51 courses taught, only four are in English, with two courses designed for international students only to familiarize them with Korean culture. Furthermore, there are about 56 courses taught in the PPE division, with approximately eight courses taught in English. So far, even though there are around 17 courses taught in the GSC division, they are all taught in Korean. This shows that only almost 10 percent of all courses in Humanities are taught in English.

We asked an international junior in GIST about her experiences with humanities courses offered in English. She told GISTNEWS, “Every semester during course registration, I am forced to take humanities courses that I am uninterested in to fulfill my graduation requirement because it is the only course offered in English.”

Every semester, two or three humanities courses are open for international students. However, some courses in the HUS and PPE divisions are offered once in two years. Hence, since a few courses are redundantly opened, international students struggle with course selection after their 2nd year since there are fewer English course options. This restricts international students from taking the courses they are interested in and possibly hinders them from fulfilling graduation requirements.

Two international students who wanted to remain anonymous expressed their concern to GISTNEWS since they had no options to take Humanities courses this semester as they had already taken the courses offered. Another international Freshman told GISTNEWS, “I understand it is hard to change the courses to English completely, but it would be nice if [GIST] gives English courses in Humanities at least during the summer and winter semesters.”

Even though GIST is an international campus, most Korean students still prefer to take a lecture in Korean. GISTNEWS asked a few Korean students how they would feel if the courses changed to English. “It will be hard for us,” one student said, “Humanities courses require a higher level of English language than major courses, but if it were to change, it would be a good learning experience for us.” However, from the impressions GISTNEWS gathered from the inquiries, most Korean students find the idea of Humanities courses in English truly scary.

According to Humanities professor Jang Jinho, professors are concerned about the need to open English courses in humanities. He told GISTNEWS there could be several alternatives to resolve this issue. Firstly, he proposed that Professors in Humanities and Social science change some of their courses in English. He explained that this is the ideal situation even though it is hard work for professors. This is a work in progress, and he assured GISTNEWS that students could expect more courses to open in the foreseeable future.

He also proposed an alternative method for international students, such as opportunities to take humanities courses on MOOC or other third-party teaching platforms from other universities and have the credits acknowledged. The other alternative he suggested was to take courses offline at other universities and transfer their credits to fulfill their requirements since GIST students can do an exchange semester in other universities, both abroad and in the country.

The mission of the Liberal Arts and Sciences curriculum in GIST is to provide students with courses that will help them develop the knowledge and character needed to reflect on their own lives and the lives of those around them. This will ultimately lead to lives that are not only more prosperous but also more fulfilling. Hence, incorporating Humanities and Social science courses as a graduation requirement is essential in shaping a thriving scientific community. Therefore, as GIST transitions to a global campus, it should find measures and consider alternatives to mitigate the lack of Humanities courses taught in English so that international undergraduate students have more varied options for course selection