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Giving university exam grades according to students` ability
DECEMBER 11, 2013 09:01  
Professors at the University of Paris, the world`s oldest university, had enjoyed absolute authority in the 1960s. Students only listened at class without being able to ask questions. They had to send a formal letter to professors for a meeting. Such an atmosphere has continued since the first European universities started in the 11th century in Bologna, Italy, etc. Professors were having high authority on the back of social respect on top intellectuals and their authority to give grades, or credits, to students.

Giving credit to students means trustworthiness. This means professors guaranteed the ability of students taking their classes. However, credit has long been the object of distrust in Korea. According to a recent parliamentary audit, 49.5 percent of Seoul National University students got A credit. It is normal that the ratio of students getting A does not exceed 25 percent. Other colleges are not exception. Professors give good grades to prevent their students get disadvantages when getting a job. There are also students who openly complain when they get poor grades.

The system of re-taking courses is also spurring distortion of credits. The system enables students to re-take courses when they get low grade. Though giving second chance should not be avoided, the problem is fairness. If students re-taking class and those taking the class for the first time take exams at the same time, the former are bound to be in a profitable position. School records don`t show whether the students re-took the class.

Korea University will indicate the record of students re-taking classes from next year. It says this is to recover trustworthiness. Companies now lay little weight on grades when hiring new employees. Despite Korea`s high international status, its universities lag behind other sectors. Universities can`t grow if they lose credit. Grades should be made according to students` efforts. At least major universities, in particular, should abide by this principle.

Senior Editorial Writer Hong Chan-sik (chansik@donga.com)

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