South Korea's leading universities will invite 81 distinguished foreign scholars, including nine Nobel Prize laureates, to teach at their domestic campuses next year as part of a state-initiated campaign to upgrade the quality of the nation's higher education, Yonhap News reported Sunday quoting government officials.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said it will financially support the planned invitations of world-class scholars by 30 local universities, including Seoul National University, to participate in about 80 state-funded research projects in 2009.
The project, formally named the "World Class University" program, was launched in June under a government-led drive to improve educational quality at local colleges by allowing their students access to lectures from internationally eminent scholars and professors.
"The government will next year spend a total of 20 billion won ($15.3 million) on the World Class University program, awarding about 200 million won to each research project involving at least one chair or guest professor from abroad," a ministry spokesman was quoted as saying.
"The 81 foreign scholars invited to temporarily teach in South Korea include nine winners of the Nobel Prize, 12 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and 18 members of the U.S. National Academy Engineering."
The Nobel Prize scientists invited to various Korean universities include Paul Crutzen, Kurt Wuethrich and Roger D. Kornberg, who won the prize in chemistry in 1995, 2002 and 2006, respectively. Louis Ignarro and Andrew Z. Fire, winners of the Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology in 1998 and 2006, respectively, will also come to Korea next year.
South Korea had only two universities ranked in Time's 2007 list of top 200 universities worldwide _ KAIST and Seoul National University. At Seoul National University in 2006, foreign scholars accounted for only 0.4 percent of its 1,773 faculty, compared with 12.8 percent in China's Tsinghua University and 5 percent in Japan's Tokyo University, according to ministry data.