When you are a student, finding part time work is a necessity for many, especially for foreign students who are trying to keep up with the expense of living abroad. Korean universities try to address all student needs with a system called the ‘Student Worker Scholarships’. Created by the Korean government, successful applicants work for their university in any assigned office. The jobs are sought after for their convenience. You can work during your free time between classes, thus saving travel time and expenses to a job off site. However, for Korean students, the selection process is very strict and not as easy as one might think. Each student who applies is carefully evaluated based on a predetermined criteria. However, there have been some concerns regarding the recruitment process at Dankook University (DKU). The Dankook Herald investigated.
DKU hires two types of student workers, ‘National Student Workers’ and the ‘International Student Workers’. While the jobs are similar, there are differences in the recruitment process. National student workers apply through the ‘Korea Student Aid Foundation’. Selection is based on level of income, GPA (Grade Point Average) and DKU’s own selection criteria set by the school’s Scholarship Team. This means the applicant’s family background and academic performance matter a lot. Students with low family income are given priority (under 9,038,404 KRW per month). Student with an 80% average or 3.5 GPA are also given priority in the selecting process.
|▲ International Hall and the international students.|
The reason for the discrepancy in the intake process is that international students cannot apply for assistance from the ‘Korea Student Aid Foundation’, the group that handles the hiring for Korean Student Worker Scholarships. Therefore, international students are handpicked by staff without having to go through the same cumbersome process that Korean students face. Korean students also have to reapply to the ‘Korea Student Aid Foundation’ every semester and they might not get selected again, even if they have been working for an office for a long time, while international students do not. Moreover, even if the staff intends to retain the help of their Korean students, they have no say in the matter.
Students can be either transferred or terminated under the Korean system if they fail to meet the requirements. Offices have no authority over the hiring process because the Ministry of Education is the body that is in charge of the program. As a result, most of the jobs are given to international students as offices have more authority over the hiring process. The selection process for international students is quite different. They work predominately with the Office of International Affairs. They read about the job openings through unofficial channels such as their instant messenger chat group, or through word of mouth. Interested applicants then visit the office to arrange an interview. The staff would use the time check the applicant’s background, assess their personality, ability to develop interpersonal relationships and GPA. Once they pass this process, student workers usually serve as clerks and handle paperwork or other international student enquiries.
|▲ The equality of student worker being hired in International Hall has become an issue. (Photo by Financial News)|
DKU has interviewed several international student workers from various countries regarding their recruitment process. According to them, staff normally ask the students themselves for recommendations of other students to hire. An international student from China stated that despite responding to an official announcement for a job opening on the school portal, the interviewers favored students who were recommended by others. Requirements for students looking for work in the Office of International Affairs are also unclear. An international student who was working there said that as long as he could speak Korean and Chinese and had time in his schedule, he qualified for the job. The Office of International Affairs handles matters relating to international students, either exchange or regular full time students, so employees that speak Chinese or English are an asset. Additionally, if the applicant is able to speak Korean fluently, he or she would be given priority.
Most universities in South Korea recruit international student workers in a similar fashion. The cronyism is unfair to other international students who need a job to support their studies. The problem is further complicated when you add Korean students who are governed under their own system.
In America, colleges and universities have a specific body to control the recruitment of students for jobs on or off campus. For example, Southern Methodist University (SMU), a private institution located in Dallas, Texas has a department called the ‘Student Employment Office’ that helps all student applicants, local and international, secure jobs as office clerks, library assistants and cafeteria workers. It also maintains a partnership with local businesses to help students land jobs off campus. Students only have to apply through the university’s online portal. If selected, they are given an interview and a job assignment agreed to by both the students and employers.
|▲ Student workers are recruited by a specific job agency within the university in America. (Photo by Towson University)|
There are several flaws with the school’s international student worker program that still need to be addressed. The Student Worker Scholarship program is essential for students and that necessity is the reason why it must be reviewed attentively, so that all students can benefit from an equal opportunity and gain from it’s implementation.
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